Monday, June 14, 2010

An Almanac For Moderns: The Restless Voice

June Fourteenth

There is no breeze today except the wind of rumor that perpetually blows through the cottonwoods, and it would be a mystery where they find it in this heavy atmosphere unless one examined their leaf-stalks with an attentive eye. For these are flattened and where the heart-shaped blade joins to the petiole it is as free, almost, to swing as if suspended on a pivot. The merest whisper of a breeze suffices to set the leaves twirling, to rustling and talking.

The wise of the earth assure us that all poplars, like the willows, are trivial trees, short of life, weak of stem, prey to more ills than mortal man. These things are so, and we are bidden only to admire the oak and pine, that outlive the centuries, that grow in surety and have the sterner virtues. But is there no room in the forest for the poplar, with its restless, talkative foliage? The strong and silent folk of earth--I would rather praise them than live with them. I have never grumbled at a chatterbox, providing that her tongue was kind.

More information on our Almanac For Moderns project and the work of Donald Culross Peattie can be found here.