Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Blessing of Locusts

The tall trees are the tip-off. Look down, look way down and you may find a gem of an old house nestled beneath. Or a clearing sanctified by feral lilacs and wild roses, an overgrown stone foundation left to tell a homesteader's story. Another invitation to time-travel, in fact I'm powerless to to resist the pull...

Often those tall trees are endowed with the twisted branches, rough bark and siren-song perfume of the locust tree. This morning I'm trying to find out which one - or should I care? our Dad (who knew his trees) called them Honey Locust. A flit through suggests that Black Locust may be closer to the truth - the flowers and the range arguing convincingly. I remember thorns, the craggy huggable bark, the yellow-green fronds fading to golden yellow in early fall. 'Nuff said. I can debate archi terms 'til even my best friends get drowsy, but these days plant nomenclature doesn't warm my blood. I recall that heady June scent that takes me home, to the beginning of the endless free summers of childhood. That's enough for now.

I've heard people say that the locusts were often planted by UEL settlers..were they in fact? Could they have been brought as mementos of softer climes by these refugees? Unlikely, as folk often escaped with nothing. Were they transplanted from the wild, in an attempt to civilize the rough clearings around newly crafted homes? Were they recognized and spared when the struggle against the suffocating density of the dark forest harvested the useful tall pines blanketing the land, and burned the rest? Was the wood not viable? Or did some good wife, bereft of beauty in her harsh life, plead for their fragrant soft flowers to be spared?

Looking forward to June. Intoxicating fragrance on the wind. Listening to the song in the sculptured branches, in communion with long-ago loyalist pioneer women who may have taken joy in the presence of locusts.

left: Davy house in Bath
right: small brother and me under the locusts at the home farm

1 comment:

  1. I'll trade you my pair of black locusts for a clutch of feral lilacs.