7 AM CT// Audubon Park Oak Tree

Letters

WHERE: Live Oak Tree on the Edge of the Lake/Golf Course, Audubon Park

WHEN: 7-something AM, Central Time

Dear Audubon,

Let me tell you a story–

the very first time I spotted you, I was 20 years-old and riding the streetcar from one end of St. Charles to the other.  I saw an arcing entrance, palm trees, a massing of Spanish moss, and legit sprinted off the streetcar shrieking,

“YOU GUYS, THIS IS THE PARK!”

and was promptly greeted with a swift face-first BANG! into a lamp-post.  My course altered slightly from there to go find a sno-ball instead of a tourist selfie to help calm down the small lump on my forehead.

3 ½ years later, I returned on a cheap-ass Walmart bike in the middle of a July day, sans sno-ball, sans water.  I plopped down between the roots of a live oak and watched a family of ducks quack and totter by. Felt my skin become sticky from the air.  Felt my hair start to frazzle. And then promptly fell asleep.

***

You may not know this, but one of my secret super powers is the ability to close my eyes and almost instantaneously fall asleep. Sofa, bus, train, rock, floor, plane, bed– I have probably fallen asleep on all of them.  But my Audubon naps have been different, I sleep as if I’m waking– like there’s light burning at the edges of my eyes, energy coursing through my veins, my feet and legs get itchy.

And so after most naps beneath an Audubon tree, I bolt up and run.  One, two, three, sometimes four loops around the 1.8 mile asphalt, weaving between the strollers, bikers, runners, rollerbladers, lollygaggers. I feel myself leaning into the turns, chasing down the backs of people’s heads, striding out along the straight-aways beneath the outstretching branches of the oaks.  

I am struck, more often than not, by the absurd strange beauty of the trees, the senseless placement of the golf course in the middle of the Park, by the so many varied and different kinds of people promenading along the path.

Which makes me zoom even faster, leaning into the curves even more sharply, finding my breath begin to halt, until my body caves, stops, and find its way back at the arcing entrance, the swooping palm trees, the strands of Spanish moss.  

I watch as the streetcars make their stuttered vibrations down the track, the gaggle of tourists merrily snapping away on their cameras and phones, and realize this time, I have managed not to to semi-concuss myself. This time, I am home.

So thank you, Audubon, for making feel and realize that.

As some people say down here in the depths of this bayou city:

Strong branches//Deep roots,

Kat

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