“But nature is always more subtle, more intricate, more elegant than what we are able to imagine.”
― Carl Sagan,The Demon Haunted World, Science as a Candle in the Dark.
“Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?”
― Walt Whitman
Branches form an arcade. Spruce and pine trees weighted with snow. When ideas land flat or words go sour, I head out to where the forest is its own place, separate from anything to do with me or the busy, dizzy world of humans.
“All that is gold
does not glitter,
not all those things that
wander are lost:
the old that
is strong does
deep roots are not reached
by the frost.”
Trees: rooted, swaying, creaking sentinels of shade; havens for fort-builders; way-stations for birds. Long lived tabulators of rain and drought, sap engines and fountains of oxygen. It is good fortune to live among the arborescence. Without woodlands life on this planet is problematic.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir
“From my perspective, I absolutely believe in a greater spiritual power, far greater than I am, from which I have derived strength in moments of sadness or fear. That’s what I believe, and it was very, very strong in the forest.”
– Jane Goodall
Trees I have known: a resin dribbled grandfather Spruce with enough under-canopy of boughs to provide an instant tent. Dark. Aromatic. Imbued with a spice of the woodland.
A fallen cottonwood near Mama Bear Lake: hollowed out; once a home for bats – its crown branches contained the ruins of an eagle nest so vast I could crawl into it. Supine, the cottonwood transformed, providing a diving platform into the cool murky depths of a swimming hole shared with fish and an occasional fresh-water otter.
“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”
– John Muir
Birch trees that surrounded our house offered up symphonic whispers during storms. Their leaves fell with a fragrant whoosh as the Alaska winter neared. Their trunks were the color of moonlight. Their bark peeled like fine scrolls from Alexandria.
A birch tree that leaned at a nearly impossible angle. That slope invited me to climb as if I were running up an escalator. At some point I wedged an old door knocker between a vee of upper limbs. Whenever I lifted and dropped the rusted metal tongue against its plate, I entered someplace new and unexpected.
“The world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air.”
– Treebeard, from J.R.R.Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King.
Clusters of pussy willow, harbingers of spring, gathered along stream paths and the edges of ponds, their sharp-scented rinds drifted up from the dampness. Their low-tangled branches always suggested mysteries were afoot.
Observing the autumn forest from our small fabric plane, we viewed Paper Bark Birches (Betula papyrifera) and Diamond Willows as they dropped their golden leaves, forming inverted haloes on the dark moss of the woodland floor.
“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
― Khalil Gibran
The Writer Elkhound reminds me that is time to take a break. Standing in the company of trees, I am inspired. Returning from the forest, I am replenished. And ready to write.