How Did It Know?

How do branches know where to grow? This is the question that puzzled me one day as I observed a tree in my backyard.


It is a river birch tree set in the corner near the house. There are three trunks, two that grow straight and tall, but this one came close to the roof and as it grew it shifted. It continued to shift until it passed the corner of the roof, then it continued on its straight and narrow path. It never touched the house with the trunk. How did it know to be slightly out of reach of the roof? Why didn’t it grow and hit the roof?

This got me to looking as I walked along my usual road.

Why did this trunk all of a sudden bend to the right, there was not a single thing around it. Why did it do this?


Like a snake it slithered up from the trunk. It found its way around this object from man. It continued to wind and creep its way to the top of the pole. How did it know that it could grow all around and continue?



Branches reach out to hug some unseen presence while the trunk of its neighbor zigzags its way, creating a dance as it moves up.


A friend sent me a photo of a tree she walks by. She said this tree is navigating life as it twists and turns. How does it know when to twist?

raegan tree

Questions #23

cow 1

This post was inspired by Steph at Box of Chocolates 29.

Why are you looking at me?

Have you been banished to this section of the field? Are you in time out?

Do you really want to know? Or are you just a curious on-looker?

Is it something you said or something you did? Is everyone mad at you?

It really doesn’t matter but, would you be so kind as to open this gate for me?

Where would you go? What would you do?

Why do you care? Can you help a bovine out?

Wouldn’t the farmer miss you? Are you old enough to be on your own?

Is it fun on the other side of this gate? Could I find some greener grass to munch? Hey, where are you going? Weren’t you going to let me out?  Will you be back tomorrow? Can we chat again?

Search for a Slice #9

Beautiful blue skies with puffy white clouds, slight breeze, sun shining bright were all factors that led me to take a walk (plus I was on the hunt for a slice of life). I haven’t been hitting the pavement in the last several month due to inclement weather or working. Energetically I set out to see what has changed along my walking route while I was away from the road.

I am scanning the fields and sky, hoping to spot a hawk or two perched in the tiptop of the trees. No hawks. Just boring khaki colored fields.  Next I cast my gaze down to the ground. There are remnants of the last snow laying in the ditches. They look like chunks of dirty, but sparkly styrofoam. Do I see figures in them? Could there be a series of photos of icy snow that has taken on the shape of a recognizable object? No, I see  nothing  in this snow.

I have reached my half-way point and heading back toward home. Every step filled with disappointment in nature. You have let me down. I did not find my slice on this walk.

As I am about to turn into the subdivision a horn begins blaring behind me. BEEP, BEEP, TOOT! I know it is Juanita, my neighbor. She comes zooming up in her convertible Audi A4 with the top down, sporting an Indiana Jones hat.

“Beautiful day!” she beamed.

I laughed, “Have you been golfing?”

With her husky voice, she replies, “You betcha, baby, and I’ve got tee times set up for the next two days. The weather’s supposed to be beautiful. I’m tired of sitting on my a** in that house. Catch you later, baby!” Then she’s gone.

Juanita is in the fall of her sixties, but she has a zest for life. She is hitting the links every day possible. Several years ago she traveled with us as we did the river cruise down the Danube. All I can say is Juanita is a hoot to have for a neighbor. I hope I have her energy when I get to her age. Thanks Juanita, you saved my search for a slice on my walk.

Evolution of a Field

I don’t know what prompted me to take this picture, but I’m glad I did as a drama (not really sure if that’s the correct word here, but you can be the judge) took place over time.

This is the field at the end of my walk. As I approached it this spring day, I thought how pastoral this scene was. A quick snap of the picture with my phone preserved this as a moment I might use for a slice one day.

Several weeks later I was shocked to discover my pastoral scene had been plowed under.

Questions ran through my mind as I surveyed the new landscape. What happened to the cows? What does this farmer have in mind for this field now? Will he plant something? We left for a couple of weeks, but when we returned a few of my questions were answered.

So it is to be corn in the field. We leave again for a few weeks, but when I return to check on the field, it saddens me.

It was too early to have harvested the corn. I believe the drought took this farmer’s hopes of an income from him. I did find it interesting that the geese decided this was the perfect place to spend a night. There were many asleep in the field and a few were having an early breakfast, munching on fallen corn. I had never seen geese in this area before or since.

A few days ago I rode by on my bike, of course the phone was with me once again.

The stubby stalks have been replaced by the grass. I wonder is it only a matter of time until the cows return? What changes have occurred in a few short months! (Now you can decide, was it a drama? :-] )

Noticing is key to writing. In the past the evolution of this field would have received a passing glance from me. “Oh, something’s different,” I would muse to myself. But I wouldn’t know specifically what was different. Being a writer changes how I look at the world. What will I notice next?

Another Kind of Bird

While I was in California visiting my son, I tried to continue walking daily. As I walked the neighborhood, I felt as though I was being watched. I was, but these eyes didn’t blink or turn its head when I walked by. This caused me to create another phoem (photo + poem).

A new bird has sprouted,

The flock stands guard.

Each has been assigned a position.

Some are shy,

They lurk between the leaves, unsure of their job.

Vigilant day and night,

Turn around, you must keep a watchful eye!

Stretch your neck, be the first to spot danger.

Colors fade, but they continue to stand tall,

Until someone cuts and tosses them aside.

Read more slice of life stories at Two Writing Teacher’s blog.

New Discovery on My Walk

Do you see the hole? I didn’t for seven years. I have walked the same route for seven years. This year I noticed it. It is fairly close to where I found the bones. Why did I never see this before? It has obviously been here for years. I just noticed it several months ago.

I had to step off the road to get a closer look. I can tell that its been here for  a long while since the wood is so weathered. Why would there be a hole alongside a road lined with wood? What is its purpose? These questions raced through my mind as  I navigated my way over to investigate.

I thought of Ralph Fletcher. I know you are wondering what does Ralph Fletcher have to do with a hole in the ground that you’ve just discovered? He tells the story (in A Writer’s Notebook) of a ditch that was dug in his backyard by men laying telephone cable. He went out and looked in the next morning to discover that it held several creatures. He set them free before the ditch was filled in. It got him thinking, so he went into the woods near his house and dug his own ditch. The next morning it too, held several small creatures. He relates this to a writer’s notebook. It is the place to catch interesting bits of life.

So as I peer into the depths of this hole, I wonder what has been caught in this place? I fully expect to see eyes staring at me or a writhing body swirling the water. But there is nothing but water. I wonder how deep it is, but I don’t investigate that thought (yet). So now when I walk, I have to detour off the road and check for wildlife. I don’t know what I will do if there is ever anything in there. (Run like the wind?)

Meanwhile, I continue to collect bits of life in my notebook, like this.

View of My Walk

Walking is how I get some exercise (not my favorite activity). Of course the conditions must be right: not too cold, not wet, prefer low wind. I am a fair weather walker. I should be grateful because my walk has given me many slices this past year. I wonder if there are any more slices left, then I walk and discover something to write about. Before I walk out the door I have my phone, a small notebook with a pen, and sometimes my camera. My pockets are bulging as I make my way down the road.

Step after step, my eyes are checking to see what has changed from the last time I walked (which may have been yesterday). The road stretches before me, the journey just beginning. I avoid looking down the road, it appears endless. Sigh . . . I continue on.

Finally I reach the end, where I turn right to continue the walk. The landscape changes slightly. There are more trees and other plant life. This is the road where I discovered the bones. “Will there be another discovery today?” is the thought that echos through my mind as I trudge down the road.

The discovery of the day is not bones, but a new living creature. Bok, bok, chuk is a new sound I hear today. The house at the corner now has chickens. Glad they are not my neighbors!

What will I discover the next time? You will be the first to know.