“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. 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 forces of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier...”
Hermann Hesse (Tree: Reflections and Poems)
I live in a neighborhood of old trees. Mighty oaks and pines, live-oaks, maples and hickories. They tower above the houses and provide shade in summer. Most of the ones growing in my yard have to compete with one another for sun, so they're lopsided in their development, but across the fence in my neighbor's back yard, stands a lone oak whose canopy spreads at least forty feet in every direction. It's huge, symmetrical and grand. Sadly, my one and only hickory tree is dying—it has borers of some ilk in it, and the base is riddled away. Red-headed, Downy and Flicker woodpeckers feast, which is fun to watch; still, I feel sad. The tree is trying its best to force out some leaves here and there, but clearly, its days are done. I am losing a friend.
Some of the live oaks in the neighborhood are ancient. Twelve feet around, they push concrete slabs out of sidewalks and heave up roadsides. The City comes through every couple of years and hacks off their tops, and yet they stand firm. They will certainly represent themselves. I think of them as old grandmothers and grandfathers. If they could impart the wisdom of their years, they would teach us patience, solidarity, and perseverance. Whatever goes on around you, they would say, is just wind. It will blow through, perhaps blow you about, but it too will pass, and you will still be standing. They lose limbs and leaves; they host squirrel nests in their branches, and in holes where limbs have been cut off. Birds drink from pools of water that collect between their exposed roots. They are not unscathed by the world, yet they remain true to themselves, their roots in infinity, their branches in paradise.
I hope you have a favorite tree. This is a good day to visit, and pay your respects.
In the Spirit,