When I have passed my patio, I walk up a flight of concrete steps to the parking lot behind my building. To my right is the garden I shared this summer with the man from the building next door. I only grew heirloom and cherry tomatoes and bell peppers this year. At level with the tomato garden, I turn left and am almost immediately in the shade of a great maple tree. Red squirrels and black ones dash about. There are more of them than usual this year. We've been hearing that it's going to be an extremely cold winter, and I've observed that plants produce more blossoms, hence more seeds, in harsh weather conditions to hedge their bets for survival. I suspect the wild animals may do the same, producing more offspring than usual. The squirrels here spend a lot of time running up and down this tree, sometimes sitting on a branch as still as a deer, observing us humans with curiosity that leads them to dig up what we've planted to see if there's anything worthwhile there. In fact, they are the reason I only had tomatoes and peppers; they dug up my cucumber and zucchini seeds twice.
Two small saplings that are not maples grow in the low cleft of this tree. One is an evergreen, a type of cedar, with dusky blue berries similar to juniper berries. The other, which is now beginning to turn color, is a species I haven't yet been able to identify. I'm hoping one of you will help me out here. So far no one I've asked on the ground has been able to tell me.
Maybe you've been wondering about that title, "Flogrogn." In fact, I'm sure you want to know––unless you're Norwegian and you know about trees. I sent a picture of this phenomenon to a friend of mine who loves trees and who lives in Bergen. She told me that there, if a rowan tree grows in a niche of a tree of a different species, it's called a flogrogn, a flying rowan. You're welcome.
I know this little tree, making its home in the maple is not a rowan. Rowans have red berries and feathery leaves and are members of the rose family. But it's such a charming idea––that these little trees have flown into the welcoming cleavage of the maple––that I wanted to share it. Trees that do this are epiphytes, not parasites, as they live in companionship but do not take sustenance from the larger tree.There is something lovely about these diverse species sharing space with one another––modeling something good for us all. Getting along, not taking from, but adding their beauty.
I delight in this sight every time I pass it, and that reminds me to mention The Book of Delights by Ross Gay. It's a book that can make you more aware of the delights in your everyday life as Rossy (as he was called as a boy) shares with you a multitude of often quite unexpected things that delight him. He decided to write a mini essay every day for a year about the delights that overtook him in his poetic life. It is a delicious book.
My big delight yesterday was seeing a monarch caterpillar on the leaf of one of the milkweed plants I grew from seeds I collected on the prairie and broadcasted in one of my little patches last fall.
Tomorrow I will be leaving for the home country––New Mexico––and I'm very excited about it. It's my intention to interrupt the stories about my walks in Elk Horn (so soon, I know) and treat you to some delights from the Land of Enchantment. And now, if you didn't before, you have the word flogrogn. And you've seen my photo of two little flying trees.