A lyrical essay by a friend…
I have touched trees who knew Marie Antoinette, who saw Paris change from a smelly, muddy labyrinth of buildings; sewage gutted streets desecrating an ancient river, through revolution after revolution of culture, spirit, and blood, to the present city that glorifies all wealth, history human culture. The changes passed like a day in our time.
I have seen trees who watched the camps of soldiers arrayed against American
Indians, a people who believed in the fundamental connection of man to living wood. Trees that were sent to a wild and young America from Europeans who prayed that our experiment in democracy, our experiment in belief of the intelligence of every man, would survive.
I have seen trees in Massachusetts who took over and gently softened man’s first failed attempts to tame a country of wild forests. I touch these trees today, growing in fields of rock and ruin left by the settlers who moved on to better soil and to decimate other forests and vast stretches of prairie in search of abundant food and its resulting wealth and liberty.
I have pondered the meaning of freedom with southern oaks of huge, spreading
and wonderful stature. Trees who bear the burden of a civil war, a war to protect these freedoms and the unity of the ideal, as lightly as the moss that lends them a ghostly immortality in the darkest night.
Even a lonely sugar maple in Normandy, growing outside of its comfort zone for a hundred years, patiently explains something to me of the role of the stranger, the interesting outsider who displays a truth in contrast with his surroundings and endures a solitary existence; teaching, ever teaching and reaching, ever reaching for the nourishment that tastes of home.
I see these old, old beings, gnarled or smooth, mottled or pale, a hundred
times our size they share our air, our light and earth. Standing there,
patiently enduring, waiting for some kind of fate that I, knowing only the
short generations of humans cannot understand.
And I say, how can you not want to hug a tree?