My Big City Wilds




Charles W. Paige



There is a secret realm tucked well behind two sentry palms atop a jigsaw ridge somewhere east of Eden. Below and across, concrete rivers divide rows of multi-terraced boxes. Within this hidden place the sounds of nature might break through the rivers’ constant hum, barking neighborhood dogs and whistling trains, distant climbing planes, or even intruding copters.

          It is a tiny place, purportedly hemmed in by the property ownership its life always strains against or ignores. It is a plain of summer-mottled green-brown grass enclosed by low walls, patio, house; it is trees and shrubs, bushes and vines, cactus and flowers, all vying for space and the sun, and perhaps attention. It is an inadvertent nursery for unplanned kittens, mewing deep within patches of cool darkness.

          It is an artist’s pallet sprayed with uncontrolled splashes of color; that from life always mixed with that from death. Lavender, with brown and green, vines seek to cover all. A loquat’s greens and browns, at times bearing semisweet fruit of yellow-orange and too large pits, stands at the edge of lavender oblivion. Startling purple and red bougainvilleas, with brown, green, and dabs of brilliant white, persist gloriously against all odds. Spiny green Indian Fig Opuntia cactus hands, today with variegated green-yellow-red-orange tuna fingers, mocks also claws and paws, daring any such to approach. A green and reddish-brown, rubbery “money” bush grows madly with promise of fortune. Green and brown “scrub” trees betray the wake of myriad hungry birds. Green and brown of the lemon tree, and changing yellow shades of its fruit, overlay sourness at being too oft ignored. While the occasional red and white roses, or lavender and white mottled oleander, make their periodic grand appearances.

          It is a working place around the clock, climbing to the sun or invading the neighbor’s yard, as bumble bees and butterflies zoom or flutter about and land—nature’s unwitting and dependant slaves. Meanwhile, an unclouded sun makes its seasonal arc, creating then dragging and distorting shadows. Thus I contemplate from my patio perch, where otherwise appreciative bliss is suddenly broken by waves of visiting parrots swirling about and unleashing their piercingly abrasive calls before moving on—just a momentary jolt in my big city wilds.


Written September 2006


© 2006 by Charles W. Paige

All Rights Reserved


Jennie Paige at the helm on Lake Minnetonka, MN Home

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