Thursday, June 19, 2008

Talking to the trees

I sure hope I am not the only one who does it. I may be the only one to admit it.

Each morning I am up at six and stumbling out the door, barely coherent, MP3 powered on, and I am off and walking. The nice thing about six am (some people think there is NOTHING nice about it) is that things are pretty still. By things, I mean, human things. And human beings. Cars and lawnmowers, shouting children; even other walkers or joggers are rare. I like this. I like that most of my town still has its eyes closed. My personal space becomes fantastically large; I can walk backward to look at things longer if I like. I can play air drums along with the music being piped into my ears. I can dance a little, sing under my breath, cross the street in the middle, and do a full-on freak-out if I happen to walk face first into a surprise spider's web, without fear of mortification.

Most of all, I can talk to the trees.

I wish I could find the right words to convey what I draw from the trees. I sense them breathing, almost, their energy permeating the morning, soothing me like a comforting hand. Each one is, to me, like a person, a character. And yes, as I said, I really do; I speak to them. Not outloud too often; mostly in my head. The old-growth elders of the tribe, massive and stately, exuding the wisdom of all that they have seen; I offer them my respect. Good morning, Grandfather Oak. Good morning, Grandmother Pine.

I grin at the young and fresh-faced Dogwoods, their butter-colored flowers open wide like a smile, and the delicate Willow waving shyly. I nod to the elegant Paper Birch leaning nonchantly into the breeze, smile at the dainty Japanese Maples, and almost applaud the scruffy Cedars, because I have a particular fondness for them and their deep, red hearts.

I say their names when I recognize them: Elm, Magnolia and Tulip Poplar, Ornamental Cherry and Arborvitae, Sweet Lilac and Ash. Viburnam, Sassafras, Catalpa, Linden, Grey Birch, Sycamore...I list them like a litany.

I could make poems out of tree-words found in a glossary of tree-terms; to me the words sound like a secret language:
Blade, bract, clingstone, conifer, freestone, midrib, palmate, rootstock...they weave together an incantation of growth.

This morning I approached a grand and imposing tree near the edge of the road, and my steps slowed as I took in the large orange X on its solid mid-trunk. What mark is this? As I neared, I saw a sign, an official town notice, tacked to its bark: Tree Slated for Removal. My heart clutched. Poor, doomed tree. I mourned the impending loss in advance, my hand on its blackened girth. It was clearly ill, discoloration running up its length, but it still radiated strength, solid under my palm. I stood still there for a moment, so I could spend time with this tree, this tree I had been warned would soon be gone. I tried to take a picture with my mind, to transplant it from its roots to its crown, so it could grow in my imagination, not be forgotten, always be honored.

Then, I said goodbye.

I said it out loud.


Walk in the Woods said...

I relate. In a major way. You, syster-womyn, are *not* alone.


Thank you for sharing.

livewater said...

I walked with you this morning as I read. I too love the early morning hours and talking to the trees. You put it into words so beautifully. Thanks!

Art for Hair said...

Great post. I love the early mornings too, and your words really brought everything to life. Thanks!

yAnkEe - ROEL IAN - yApOx said...

I may not walk early in the morning, but I certainly talk to trees. I don't know if I'm just crazy but certainly, I happened to converse with our Avocado Tree at home and even with Acacia Trees (I live in Philippines).I just wanted to thank you for sharing that experience. You wrote your feelings well. Very nice!

Thanks! Long live the TREES!