Touching Trees

Daily I watch the trees that form a cathedral in our yard.  I love them, I feel safe, in their arms and standing on their roots, shaded and cloaked from the outside world’s harshness.  I’m grateful for those trees, inspired by them and in awe of their beauty and strength.  Season after season I see how they grow, how they respond to their neighbor plants, the weather and ultimately the climate.

I was thinking that I rarely touch the trees, really.  I toss firewood around (we heat both of our very large studios with wood from our 20 acres),  pick an occasional fruit or flower from a tree, or sometimes trim a limb.  But that’s not the kind of touching I mean.  I’m referring to feeling the essence of this living, breathing, digesting, growing, decaying giant.

The other day I communed with one of our large Shagbark Hickorys.  I find this process most helpful:  Placing your bare hands, fingers pointing upwards, against the bark of the trunk at shoulder height, look up the length of the tree, lean slightly into the tree, then close your eyes and allow yourself to feel the energy, the power surging through the tree. After maintaining this stance a comfortable period of time, open your eyes to the stairway to heaven.  This time, you can see more detail and complexities of the bark and crown and branching and clustering of leaves when they’re present.

I like to be reminded of the sanctity of life, of the natural order and of the interconnectedness of everything in the Universe. We’ve lived and worked here in these private woods for 24 years.  When you do that, you become very aware of how much the landscape changes, not just the seasonal changes, but how much living, growing and dying factually goes on and how it changes the character of the landscape vignettes.  And not just in the plant-life, but the very earth itself.  Valleys deepen and widen, waterways change course, hillsides shrink.  The landscape is alive.

That life spirit of the landscape is what is inspiring to so many artists, including ourselves.  It’s about monumental forms, lines, light, color, texture, fractals.  It’s more than one mind could ever comprehend.  It’s an endless muse.  It can draw us outside ourselves to see how we fit into the all-inclusive tale of The Gaia Theory.

Here’s a link to a useful article on the benefits of tree-hugging: