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A conversation with trees

On Sunday afternoon, I decided to go for a walk after lunch. The weather had been nice and I had been for a walk for days.

I choose a path I hadn’t traversed before and as they say, it made all the difference.

First, I was greeted by a bunch of rabbits who were playing in the grass. I tiptoed to take a photo they heard me and ran away except one who looked a the camera and stayed just long enough for me to capture him in the camera.

Then, two unusual colored objects caught my attention and I made a point to climb the hill to check them out. They turned out to be broken witches’ hats.

But when I turned the corner, a tree made me stop in tracks. A mature tree, old enough to be a grandfather of other trees around it, stood proudly at the intersection perfectly balancing its foliage on two arms like an old man with grandchildren on his shoulders.

I stood still in front of it for a while, listening to its leaves rustling in the light breeze. It sounded as if it was talking to me. Often used as a metaphor for life itself, trees are most penetrating preachers (borrowing Herman Hesse’s words). Their message is of strength and endurance; renewal and growth; shelter and being grounded.

Harmen Hesse wrote an essay on trees:

I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.

In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.

Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.

Often we get sick of our surroundings and want to escape secretly harboring a desire to travel to faraway places to grow and to renew. But trees stand at the same place at all their lives and are still revered.

I walked further and soon after was stopped by another one. This one had a wrinkled trunk like the neck of an old man.

A few hundred meters later another one beckoned me. Now I was on a familiar stretch, how come I had never noticed it before. It had a lump, like a hunchback but it stood proudly, unperturbed by its deformity.

“This is what happens when you take the road less traveled”, I said to myself, “you look at things with a new perspective, you notice things which you wouldn’t on a familiar path, you strike conversations with strangers.”

Kahlil Gibran wrote, ” Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky.” I think he must have been referring to this tree.

It reminded me of a poem I had read once by Joyce Kilmer:

I think that I shall never see

A poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast.

A tree that looks at God all day

And lifts her leafy arms to pray

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair.

Upon whose bosom snow has lain

Who intimately lives with rain

Poems are made by fools like me

But only God can make a tree.

  1. Stefan says:

    Was the rabbit that stopped for a photo named Bugs….
    Bunny! Might have recognised you as an illustrator of animated characters.
    I saw the Booker Prize winning novel at Paperchain on the weekend and it’s titled The Overstory, about a time when trees begin whispering to humans. It’s on my reading list. The Overstory is a novel by Richard Powers published in 2018 by W.W. Norton. It is Powers’s twelfth novel. The novel is about nine Americans whose unique life experiences with trees bring them together to address the destruction of forests.

  2. Neera says:

    Just days after I wrote this post Maria Popova wrote post where Amanda Palmer reads Mary Oliver poem WHEN I AM AMONG THE TREES

    When I am among the trees,
    especially the willows and the honey locust,
    equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
    they give off such hints of gladness.
    I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
    I am so distant from the hope of myself,
    in which I have goodness, and discernment,
    and never hurry through the world
    but walk slowly, and bow often.
    Around me the trees stir in their leaves
    and call out, “Stay awhile.”
    The light flows from their branches.
    And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
    “and you too have come
    into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
    with light, and to shine.”

    So beautiful

    You can listen to her here: https://www.brainpickings.org/2019/09/23/amanda-palmer-mary-oliver-when-i-am-among-the-trees/?mc_cid=530e5fb22c&mc_eid=06efcc5131

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