· Reverence ·
On Saturday we celebrated our catalpa trees and all catalpa trees. We celebrated sacredness of nature and our environment.
We invited members of the Kansas Authors Club, District 6, to our Shangri-La where we are empowered and connected to creativity. In literature, Shagri-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British Author James Hilton. In his fictional land it is a place of peace and perpetual youth.
For our celebration, we created a festive event comparable to Japanese cherry blossom festivals which are celebrated in the spring. Also known as hanami in Japanese, it’s a term that means picnics beneath the cherry trees.
Like Shangri-La, our gathering was held in a place cut off from the world. And had the event been scheduled a week earlier, no one would have attended because our private dirt road was flooded by recent heavy rains. The flow of water traveling northeast rediscovered its natural path as it spread its banks, racing to the Little Arkansas River, transforming our road to an active, even dangerous, creek bed.
Our invitation-only event was held beneath, around, and in catalpa trees. We called it “Catalpa Flowering Friendship Day.” And thankfully, we appreciated that our Hometree, our Mothertree, was blossoming in her awe-inspiring beauty, including a perfume-like fragrance impossible to manufacture and sell.
As people arrived, in my excitement, I took them to the best locations to observe the catalpas. Was the kitchen window the best spot? Or was it from our bedroom window? No, Alex’s upstairs studio deck was the closest with a panoramic view of our place in the country we call Sandhenge.
Later, a few attendees explored our five acres of paradise, including a close-up view of the pond, paths, flowers, and trees.
People shared their encounters of meeting their first catalpa. Alex Potter remembered her days as a child experiencing the hot, humid summers while growing up near Manassas, Virginia. She reviewed her tree-climbing play time when she avoided the sun, protected by the umbrella-like leaves. Alex also recalled the catalpa caterpillars that her mother used as fishing bait and the long, slender seed pods, which resembled beans, hanging from the blossoming tree.
Phil Wood wrote:
“What caught my attention about your open house was the Catalpa tree. One of my earliest memories is of a Catalpa tree and its flowering. I was living with my parents in an old farmhouse near an apple orchard on Keith Hill Road in Grafton, Massachusetts. I was, as close as I can estimate, about three years old. There was a driveway off the main road which led to a barn with a large red door. As you drove toward the barn the house was on the right side. On the left side was a large Catalpa tree. I was amazed when it produced lovely flowers and wondered where they came from. I decided it was just part of being the tree.”
The first time I recall actually connecting the flowering tree with its name was when we moved to our current location near Medora, Kansas. At that time, people recalled how in the olden days the catalpa trees attracted so many flocks of crows that they were regularly used for target practice by gun enthusiasts.
However, the first time I really felt that another person, besides Alex, personally honored these magnificent, majestic trees and their space, was in 2010 after viewing Avatar, a visually stunning movie.
In the movie, when Hometree was introduced to the viewers as holy to the natives of Pandora, I understood that James Cameron, the director, was calling us to reconnect with what is sacred and to decide what really matters.
Cameron’s call was for people to show reverence to our environment and to honor our space.
We invited our guests so that they too could listen to silence, the calls of nature, and the power of beauty.
The catalpa trees at Sandhenge were magnificent in their majestic beauty with the sun highlighting the blossoming, aromatic flowers. As they shaded our house and studio, they shared their power, wisdom, and love.
“Catalpa Flowering Friendship Day” ended but the friendships, reverence for nature, and creative writing will continue.
Until next time, happy writing and reading!
The Kansas Authors Club http://www.kansasauthors.org is a statewide organization that encourages and supports great writing. It’s divided into seven districts. In Hutchinson, Reno County, (part of District 6) we have monthly meetings at Hutchinson Community College. http://www.hutchcc.edu You’re invited. Questions? Contact Jim Potter, firstname.lastname@example.org