My brother planted a forest.

April 24th, 2014, 8am

My brother is one of the most passionate and gifted cultivators I know. Years of study and work as an exceptional graphic designer have complimented his innate love of people and plants: his family’s home is a delightful place to visit. As he continues to dream and work out his dreaming in the ongoing cultivation of his lush Florida property, I find new additions and transplants just about every time I drop by. He’s also generous: I have new succulent pups watered in a planter at our place now.

Recently he fell in love with bamboo and has begun the work of bringing some to his backyard to begin his own forest. I am already imagining the music of his forest in a future breeze, and it being a great place to sit and talk with the people we love, or just rest, like my favorite scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

In his research and quest to get some starter shoots he found an extraordinary local supplier across the Bay. He invited to me to join him on a daybreak drive to browse their offerings and bring home some stuff to plant. The seller has cultivated over 30 clumps of different bamboo on less than a quarter of an acre all around a house in a typical Tampa subdivision of one-story bungalows. Some of it towered 50 feet and more, rivaling some native pines for stateliness and glory.

The saleswoman was soft-spoken and kind and gracefully moved among their stone paths sharing details about each variety and growing tips and considerations.

It didn’t seem possible to fit the three buckets of starter bamboo into his SUV — some of it was already 12-14 feet tall — but the folks there do this all the time and we made our way back to his house with the grassy boughs as much in the front seats as we were.

As we were deliberating about the merits of our favorites at the bamboo supplier, we noticed an oddity: a large, iridescent, metallic green fly that hovered in one place. Brilliant in the sun, it (or they, rather) would dart off if you moved too close to them. But they wouldn’t move too far. For whatever reason there were several of them that stayed very close to us and our conversation.

Like the stalks and leaves of the mature bamboo, they were brilliant and beautiful in the early sunlight. I could get close enough to capture a few photos of them from above, but not close enough for long enough to focus the phone’s camera on them instead of the crushed shell gravel of the path. A brilliant green blur is the best I could manage in a dozen attempts.

As we’re waiting for his new bamboo to grow into shade-makers, I’m remembering the morning with my brother, and I’m remembering those remarkable flies, and I’m thinking of how much like poems they are. Or, to the poet, how much like potential poems they are. Beautiful, barely approachable. Alive and on the move. Difficult to capture (or hear) clearly against a such broken backdrop.

Shu, Yiling, David Wade and Christine said thanks.

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Michael Dechane

I forage and forge stories worth sharing.

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