Professor Snowball is the snowball tree in my backyard. He changes with the seasons, like we all do. In November he is a dying fire with his last red embers drifting down into dark days. In January he stands stark naked. In spring he begins to bloom. By May he is covered with heavy snowballs which pull his branches down low. Then a brownish tint starts to gnaw at his glory like slush on the side of the road. This morning (like every morning) he is in full mutation. More brown than white. Soon he’ll be covered in luscious green leaves, then fiery red flakes, ending with his skinny stick branches covered in winter’s white frozen ash. I observe Professor Snowball as he evolves, dissolves and revives. He continually changes his outer cloak, but never what he is inside.
But for man isness seems boringly bland. Is isn’t enough for us. We want to be more. Someday I’ll really be something, I mean something else, I mean something more. Only man encumbers his brain with er’s which is why we never feel at peace or complete. Stronger, sicker, smarter, dumber, richer, poorer, morer. Er is everywhere except in nature. A branch of the garden hedge shot up over night. It now sticks out higher than all the others. But the hedge doesn’t have an opinion, doesn’t know about the race to er, nor to be jealous of this overnight success. Nature (other than human nature) never makes a big deal about outer difference because it knows that only the is inside can weather the change of seasons.
Today I realized that the soggy snowball tree isn’t sad. Today full. Tomorrow empty. Once pure white, now dirty brown. It constantly changes consistency and color, but it never changes at its core. Professor Snowball isn’t sad. He is. Just is.
We are all about er’s.
I saw a red poppy growing alone through a crack of an asphalt parking lot in the shadow of a large rusting trash container. But there was no hint of discontent in his wobbly red head. He wasn’t a lonely poppy or a loser poppy. Not a tormented, ‘someday I’m going to be a cactus,’ poppy. Not a bitter, ‘but I was supposed to be an oak tree,’ poppy.
In the warm morning breeze he waved me to come over. I stooped down and we talked. I told him I’d never seen a prettier poppy. But he shook his bright cherry head and said, ‘No, I’m not pretty, not red, not even a poppy. I am, that’s all.’ I guess I looked a bit puzzled because then he smiled and added gently, ‘I am in an ephemeral expression of eternal life… and so are you.’