Tuesday, December 07, 2010

They're not just for the birds...

The tree under which we sat telling stories and laughing at our family reunion.
Greenville, North Carolina - August 2010.

I've been fascinated by trees lately. Their majesty and strength, perseverance and patience. I used to either completely ignore them or fear their imminent downfall. For most of us, much of the time, trees are just there, dropping leaves and branches, threatening to cleave our roofs in two, smash our windshields to splinters, and otherwise make our insurance agents want to come up with reasons to drop us from their rolls. In ongoing fits of foolishness and greed, builders cut them down in order to build houses and office parks that no one seems to be buying these days.

Nevertheless, there they stand, unfazed and faithful trees. Tall and strong. Short and wide. Ignorant of me and far too easily ignored by me. Especially now that Christmas season is upon us and so many trees here in Charlotte are being subjected to the decorative whims of so many light-seeking southerners, I am yet again reminded that trees are truly magnificent creatures, whether real or fake, well-lit or shadowy, height-endowed or height-deprived.

A recent walk on the greenway - Charlotte's term for public walkways in wooded areas.

Kinda like people, aren't they?
Some are tall and majestic.
Some unmovable and sturdy.
Others are short and wide.
Others weak and easily shaken.
Some are lit from within, while others seem hellbent on putting every one else's lights out.

These trees were too small to provide much shade during an October tennis tournament.

Whether we want to believe it or not, unlike the tree in my living room, we are all real -
real happy and sad, fulfilled and empty, at peace and at war,
strong and weak, brave and fear-filled, often all one and the same time.
Unfortunately, many of us live as though falsifying ourselves,
covering our faults and denying our fears,
disallowing our needs and disavowing our longings,
applying a lot of make-up and cover up,
closing ourselves in and shutting our loved ones out
will eventually convince others (and ourselves) that
we really are perfectly okay, no need for assistance or attention, thank you very much.

The trees behind the house we stayed in on Hilton Head, October 2010.

That's when I turn back to the trees and look at them in awe and wonder.
There they stand - in scorching heat and stinging cold, in drenching rain and unrelenting drought.
Their bark peels, their leaves fall, and their roots go down deep.
They welcome all climbers and fliers and crawlers and nesters.
They offer themselves as home and hiding place, shade and shelter.

A tree next to a tennis court here in Charlotte. 
I love the way the branches have woven themselves together. 
Makes me think of the way some of my friendships feel.

They join together and branch out.
Sure, they succumb to storms and insect invasions.
Caterpillars, small and slow, make sawdust out of them.
Somehow, though, most trees manage to live long and leafy lives.
Standing perfectly, contentedly, determinately still.

A little tree nestled in the branches of our big, fake Christmas tree.

There's a lesson in those boughs and branches somewhere, I'm sure of it.

1 comment:

Michele said...

Beautifully written. I also find a sense of solace in the presence of a tree. The small tree in my profile picture makes me happy because it is perfectly formed out in the middle of fields of corn, tobacco and pumpkins.

We went to Lake Oachita in AR for Thanksgiving, and the trees in the park were beautiful. Pictures will be put on my blog soon.