|Eucalyptus bark, courtesy of Ruth Steele, Devon, UK and sxc.hu|
Not having much time, I am going to just open up one of my recent books, stab a finger down, and leave you with whatever I found... And here it is, the start of a scene (A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage) after the wandering Pip has lit down in California, which looks very different from the sharecropper's farm he knew back in south Georgia.
After a while one of the little girls began crying in her sleep, and Irisanne woke and got up. He could see her sitting on the floor by the cot, her hand swooping along the child's spine. The Rushing of the wind through the branches grew louder, made him feel uneasy. When her daughter tossed restlessly in the cot, the mother began to sing an old tune:
Silvering's on the Jordan stream,
Silvering's on the feet that pass,
And bright silvering's on the tree.
It's lessening that time imparts;
Hours of sorrow fall upon us,
And sad and sere are all our hearts--
To Pip it felt eerie and comfortless, the melody even more mournful than the verses. He got up and slipped down the stairs. Outside the house, he could still make out the words, the notes mixing with the noise from the leaves.
Swain had called the trees a windbreak, but they were more like a confined, immensely high forest than anything so domestic and useful. He walked on the aromatic debris, looking up at the chinks of moon through the canopy and pausing to touch the bones. He had never seen anything like the grove of eucalyptus with the moonlight showering down. The older trees had few lower branches, and the trunks were tall and tapering but straight like masts for a clipper ship. Where the saplings were crowed, they spired up, narrow and tall. Some of the mature trunks looked as if they had been sheathed in tattered wallpaper that shed in ribbons and flakes, but underneath the smooth naked skin was as smooth and fair as the inner thigh of a girl--one with hair so pale and metallic that she might be an elf or a fairy. He touched a tree like mottled silver marble. The wind fell away, and the mosaic of leaves above him grew still: blue, light green, grey-green, and jade.