ODE TO TREES (and a little bit of Jim Harrison)
One of my favorite authors, JIM HARRISON, often exposes his love of rivers in his stories. Have you read them? DALVA is my favorite. I honor his descriptions of these big, strong, living arteries across the American land and marvel at their novelty.
The Pacific Ocean has always been my closest aquatic companion; rivers are scarce here and when you do find one it has no comparison to the mighty Mississippi or the poetic Niobrara. I would like to see either of these rivers someday, cross them, float down them.
Trees are my thing; solid, strong, old, grounded, and gnarled. They rise from the earth as sturdy arms, reaching, framing, defining. Their stories circle around and inside them, marking history deep beneath their surface.
On a walk yesterday, I came upon a stand of eucalyptus trees not native to the area (apparently an Australian transplant some 100 years ago), but beautiful nonetheless. Eucalyptus skin is smooth, their limbs long and sensuous.
Their history shows right on the surface as the bark shreds and peels away from the source to reveal a vulnerable pink skin.
Eucalyptus soak up sunlight like a sponge and reflect it back with a warmth that makes you feel, well, that everything’s okay and that vulnerability is not synonymous with weakness.
December, 2009, I was in South Carolina for the first time.
I sought out and found a whole lane of oak trees; graceful, arching beauties that had taken two hundred years to meet in the middle of the road.
At then end of the drive was another tree. It was seven hundred years old. The eucalyptus trees I pass on my walks are at the most one hundred years old. This guy was seven hundred years of strength. I tilted my head back to take it all in. This tree was no silky, fragrant eucalptyus. The bark was rough and mossy, pure, unabashed strength, and determination that would take your skin off if you rubbed your hand against it. The words that came to mind were Grand Daddy. And it was.
I look forward to the day I witness a certain stand of trees flanking a powerful river that is flowing, moving, thriving on the strength of the trees that line its banks.
For now I look to the whispering creeks and Eucalyptus of California for solace and reflection.