I spent a lot of time with trees last year…trees very big…trees very old…trees very twisted and knarled and gold…and green and brown and pink. You know what I think. Trees are alive as you and I. They grow, they know…they move, they feel…they even speak you see…the language of the tree.
When my son was a toddler we lived near a special tree…a very large ponderosa pine…the biggest its kind. We called the tree Grandpa Tree because that is what it looked and felt like…old and wise. We would visit Grandpa Tree on regular occasion…give him a hug…sometimes a kiss…then sit at his side. One Christmas day we adorned his lower branches with simple decorations. And we set gifts at his feet…small treats for his friends, bird, rabbit and deer.
I spent a lot of time with trees last year…they give me comfort. As it was for others, last year was a tough one for me, perhaps the toughest of my life. I saw splits with family, with friends, and with utmost difficulty, I split with my wife. I will say most unpoetically…it hurt like hell! But despite my pain, I don’t think splits are a bad thing.
Trees split all the time. Their trunks split to branches and branches to twigs. The veins of leaves split. Leaves split with more leaves and leaves split to lobes. Acorns must split for seed to be oak…then chromosomes and cells and tissues…root to stem. If it were not for splitting, no tree would grow, no tree would be.
Trees are not so different from you and me. They live as singles. They live in pairs like husband and wife…in families of threes, fours and mores…dark fir forests and bright aspen groves. Just like you and me, some trees are women and some are men. Why just today I saw pinon holding juniper, old lovers on canyon’s edge.
I spent a lot of time with trees last year. Went to an ancient forest…3000 years old. I encountered there a behemoth of a beast, Sequoiadendron giganteum, wide as a living room and over 200 feet tall. Having been nursed on smaller of her kind, I respectfully approached this Great Great Grandmother of a Tree…gave her a big hug…and a big kiss…and I sat at her side.
For two days I sat with many of these wise old giants, learning their ways and secrets. By the second day I had contracted a mild case of Craniocervical Dislocation Syndrome, a peculiar condition brought on by many hours of looking up in awe at unbelievably large trees. The condition is characterized by a crooked neck…and a pleasant, but often unfathomable, expansion of one's perspective.
I spent a lot of time with trees last year. No offense to present company, but more and more I prefer their company to the busily scurrying human. They don’t fight for power and money…they well share the land and they do not lie. I feel safe with them. I feel at home with them. They feel like family, these wonderful trees.
I spent a lot of time with trees last year…and this year again, I will spend, a lot of time with trees.