The Sound of Time

Time…none really ever think they hear it. Most think they hear it. Some don’t even think you can see it. This post is about how it looks, how it sounds, and where you can find it.

In my town, there are old, old, wild orange groves. Old orange trees are almost everywhere. Just this Saturday, there was the grand opening of some open space. Outside of the staging area, there were two trails, and the orange groves.

These trees…they had so many oranges on them. They were small and wrinkled, but oranges. I walked through them, to go look at the giant Jacaranda and the giant avocado. As I walked, the music faded away, and I could only hear the rustle of rabbits and lizards, the song of birds, and the sound of my feet on the soft earth. The afternoon light struck over the orange trees, and I thought of how old they were. The mustard and artichoke-thistles added age to the trees.

About fifty years ago, more or less, I couldn’t tell, the orange trees would’ve been in neat rows, healthy and trimmed. Whomever took care of them lived in a sheet-metal house, now rusted and empty. But over the years, the grove became abandoned. Some trees died, leaving big gaps, and new ones grew. The trees loosely held the form of rows, but their untrimmed shapes showed time.

The Jacaranda was gorgeous, probably twenty feet high, maybe more, maybe less. It was in one of the few farm-houses’ yards, and because someone lived there, we couldn’t get too close. The branches were bare, but a few purple blooms clung to the branches.

But, about twenty yards to the left, was the giant avocado. It took my breath away! It was about as high as the Jacaranda, maybe shorter, but its branches formed a huge, huge dome! Dodging around them, I saw cool darkness, welcome on the hot day. Leaves lay practically untouched. I could feel the majesty, the age, inside, which was almost like a wall. I couldn’t bear to walk into it, to disturb the time that had passed through the tree. Silence, then freeway noise, and only the company of animals, for who knows how long…

Then a pair of tourists came through, crunching through the ancient leaves.

Another example of this beauty is the Sierra Nevada. I was hiking through a forest, up to a lake. There was perfect silence. Birds barely sang, and I could only hear my breath and my feet. I had to whisper if I was to talk. The lake was the same, only there were a few families. The kids were laughing and screaming and splashing, but the sounds echoed across the lake. It was just that deep, huge, old presence, like the unexplored regions of Mammoth Cave.

My final example, and the one that I loved the most, was a tomb in Ireland, on the burren. The burren is a part of the land where there was once a forest. The native people, the Celts, cut all the trees down. Without the roots holding down the soil, it blew away, an example of what might happen to the Amazon. So left was the gorgeous, ribbed bedrock, etched by rain and with small tufts of grass, forcing the Celts to leave.

 The tomb was beautiful: three walls, shaping a rectangle. The opening was higher than the back, and a the fourth slab of stone at a slant. A tour guide, also for some tombs, said that the rock was originally white, but was now discolored by the lichen and age.

The sun was setting, just behind the tomb. No cars were driving by, and the tomb, so silent, became tinted red. I could almost imagine the Celts there, the time was so thick. In my mind played Celtic music. The only thing that ruined it was the chain around the tomb so that people wouldn’t graffiti it, and the calls of my friends. Oh, how stunning that tomb was! It was so spiritual, full of time, wrapping the tomb’s stone in clear thickness.

If you know now what it feels like, you can find the time anywhere. Look at the open space near your town, and travel back a hundred years: here, bison and cattle roamed free. Find a historic site, perhaps a mission, or maybe a tomb, if you have one. Huge, old trees, like Methuselah, or just the big sycamore or oak tree. In Orange County, California, Cedar trees lined the Camino Real from the city of San Juan Capistrano to the city of Tustin. Now, only a few old, old cedars remain, right next a small open-space park. Time, is more than a concept, opposite of blue being more than a color.



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