Are you out of your tree?

"No-one I think is in my tree"

(John Lennon, The Beatles, Strawberry Fields)

 

 

no doubt, about to go out on a limb...

 

 

 

 

 

What some other famous writers have said about TREES, quotations I like:

 

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way."- William Blake

“The planting of a tree, especially one of the long-living hardwood trees, is a gift which you can make to posterity at almost no cost and with almost no trouble, and if the tree takes root it will far outlive the visible effect of any of your other actions, good or evil.”
-
George Orwell

“Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?”
-
Walt Whitman

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

' I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.'

- Henry David Thoreau

Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
- Khalil Gibran, Sand and Foam

“Do you know that even when you look at a tree and say, `That is an oak tree', or `that is a banyan tree', the naming of the tree, which is botanical knowledge, has so conditioned your mind that the word comes between you and actually seeing the tree? To come in contact with the tree you have to put your hand on it and the word will not help you to touch it.”
- Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known

“We have nothing to fear and a great deal to learn from trees, that vigorous and pacific tribe which without stint produces strengthening essences for us, soothing balms, and in whose gracious company we spend so many cool, silent, and intimate hours.”
- Marcel Proust

“I am at home among trees.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”

 - Joyce Kilmer

 

 

 

click pic?

Autobographical aside: born in the village of Birchington, whose name came from Old English “bircen tun”, a farm where birch trees grow. Am lover of Silver Birch especially.

 

Planted an acorn in the front garden as a kid. The miracle of witnessing it turn into a tiny sapling filled me with wonder. The memory stayed with me, so when my son was still a toddler, my wife & I helped him plant an acorn too, now growing in our back garden. The initials of the names I chose for him spell OAK. Our little acorn is already a sapling.

 

Acorn/ Oak

At 2

 

 

Here's the Bowthorpe Oak, oldest Oak Tree in Europe, probably over a thousand years old.

Ours has a few more years to go yet!

That young son of ours is a keen tree-hugger, as am I. Embracing a tree trunk, sensing its calm, strong, stable, alive presence, feels healing, therapeutic.

 

Being in nature, among trees can be relaxing & reduce stress. The Japanese have a word for it: shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, taking in the forest atmosphere. A slow & gentle, mindful walk in the woods, under the canopy of trees, can induce a sense of well-being. Chemicals released by trees and plants, called phytoncides, boost the immune system. It's good for you.

Japanese Kanji

for TREE

 

***

 

childhood woods were good
mild introduction to the wild
frontier of my local biosphere
there in what was then now here
to me each tree was dear
how I'd climb at that time
doing all small I
mind big & high
as clear deep wide open empty sky
where I would
one day fly
could
hide
and
seek
play
stay
still
pray
till
somehow
"something understood"

 

***

 

 

 

 

Alberto de Veiga Simoes, a Portuguese writer, wrote the original version, of which this is a  translation, in 1914. The  poem was titled ‘Ao Viandante’ - which translates  as: “To the person who passes through this place.”
 

Such plaques are fairly common in the forests & national parks of North America (or Turtle Island, to use the much nicer Iroquois name, popularised by Gary Snyder.)

Yes, as a kid, I used to climb trees (cf Squirrel) in the local woods. One day, while swinging from branch to branch (like a monkey but a lot less skilfully), I must have miscalculated, &  fell to earth, breaking my left upper Humerus (funny, not!) I felt the force of gravity. In retrospect, I make light of it but ouch it hurt.

Of course, that was in the metaphorical Spring of my young life. Older now, in Winter as it were, I still love trees, both actual trees & the idea of trees, as well as ideas associated with trees.

 

 

 
   

 

Walking staff made of Ash, considered the “Tree of Life” in Norse Mythology. Apparently, the first man on Earth is said to have come from an Ash Tree. Sacred to Druids, not to mention Dryads. It’s known as the Venus of the Woods, a slender, graceful beauty.

Nowadays, the species is being destroyed by a fatal fungus causing "Ash die-back". It’s reckoned 80% of Ash Trees in Britain may be killed.

I have a few growing in my garden. They proliferate & grow quickly.


Burn it & you get….well, ash!
 

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Klimt's Tree of Life in tapestry form

hangs on my living room wall)

 

 

With matching cushion no less!

Stylish soft furnishings or what?

Isn't "bourgeois decadent" consumerism with eco-friendly imagery wonderful?!

 

 

  

 Macramé Tree of Life made by my wife,

who's rather crafty, in the sense of skilful at making things by hand!

(The branch it's suspended from originated from a plum tree I planted in our garden.)

The Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree, below, looks painted, but grows with multi-coloured bark like that:

 

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Here are some pages about TREES on this site:

 

Yoga Lesson: Tree Posture

Tree Posture Video

This Match/ match this

Carved Words

silverbirchsmall.jpg (61320 bytes)

Leaf (relief re. leaf)

Loose Leaf

Seasonal Pun

Sacred Tree

 Sycamore

I came to myself in a dark wood

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Johnny Appleseed

click pic?

Apple Tree

Apple blossom

Cherry Blossom

Seeing the wood for the trees

Bonsai

Watering the mangrove swamp

Trees' stark silhouettes

HS2 (Stop in the name of love)

Earth Matters

Xmas Tree

 

et passim

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Are you Tempted to click pic?

 

 

 

 

 

“He was the sort of painter who can paint leaves better than trees. He used to spend a long time on a single leaf, trying to catch its shape and its sheen, and the glistening of dewdrops on its edges. Yet he wanted to paint a whole tree, with all of its leaves in the same style, and all of them different.

There was one picture in particular which bothered him. It had begun with a leaf caught in the wind, and it became a tree: and the tree grew, sending out innumerable branches, and thrusting out the most fantastic roots. Strange birds came and settled on the twigs and had to be attended to. Then all round the Tree, and behind it, through the gaps in the leaves and boughs, a country began to open out; and there were glimpses of a forest marching over the land, and of mountains tipped with snow.”

                        - Leaf by Niggle, J.R.R. Tolkien

 

                 

***

TREE OF LIFE (Ernst Haekel, after Darwin)

click pic?

NB all these species now under threat

***

 

Ronald Reagan said 'trees cause more pollution than automobiles do' ( August 1981) but he would. Sounds like Senile Dementia had already set in. Mind you, even years earlier on 12 March 1966, he was making a statement like this:

"I think, too, that we’ve got to recognize that where the preservation of a natural resource like the redwoods is concerned, that there is a common sense limit. I mean, if you’ve looked at a hundred thousand acres or so of trees — you know, a tree is a tree, how many more do you need to look at?"
 

stumps me

(Took photo above in local wood. See the face?)

 

"But since I have left those shores the woodchoppers have still further laid them waste, and now for many a year there will be   no more rambling through the aisles of the wood, with occasional vistas through which you see the water.  My Muse may be excused if she is silent henceforth,  How can you expect the birds to sing when their groves are cut down?"

                            - Henry David Thoreau, Walden
 

And again:

 

“Binsey Poplars

My aspens dear….. All felled, felled, are all felled…. Not spared, not one….O if we but knew what we do
         When we delve or hew —
     Hack and rack the growing green!”
 

                                                                       - Gerard Manley Hopkins

***

In the city, where I live, Sheffield Council entered into a £2 Billion contract with a Spanish corporation, called Amey. For profit-driven reasons, the latter chose to fell rather than maintain thousands of healthy, mature street trees. They did so illegally but won’t be prosecuted. There were protests about this. Here is my young son with a banner, outside the Town Hall, in February 2016.

Despite that environmental vandalism:

"Sheffield has more trees per person than any city in Europe, outnumbering people 4 to 1."

- Wikipedia (October 2020)

Here, I am, carrying my infant son, in a baby wrap/ sling/ carrier, near two pretty examples of said trees (2011):

 Sheffield City Centre, Tudor Square, near Crucible & Lyceum Theatres (close to Winter Garden)

 

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Time,

propping self up with Apple Knob Stick

Infant now toddler in pushchair @ local woods

According to the venerable David Attenborough in his powerful documentary A Life On Our Planet (broadcast October 2020), 15 billion trees are cut down every year.
 

**

Starving, pregnant Orangutan clings to last remaining tree in her Borneo rainforest home, bulldozed to make way for a Palm Oil plantation

 

*

DEFORESTATION is a destructive problem. It can eventually lead to DESERTIFICATION. Loss of habit causes species extinction & the emergence of zoonotic diseases like Coronavirus.

Wangari Maathai started the Green Belt Movement in 1977, which has planted over 51 million trees in Kenya & organised & trained over 30,000 women in forestry & related trades. In 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her work.

Starting in 1979, Jadav "Molai" Payeng planted & tended trees in an area of 1,360 acres of sandbar on the river Brahmaputra in India, creating a forest reserve. Many animals, including Bengal Tigers, Elephants & Rhinoceros now live there. Film documentaries have been made about his work.

This beats the fictional “man who planted trees,” who in the allegorical short story of that name (L’homme qui plantait des arbres”) single-handedly re-forested a desolate valley in the foothills of the French Alps. I remember reading it in my teens,  at the time mistakenly believing it was true. Certainly inspiring.

As a student, mid 1970s, along the banks of  the river Forth at Stirling:

went out planting willows on a cold Sunday

wet underfoot & the sky was grey

willow willow

O willow

will you grow

(Those were the simple lyrics of a little improvised song I sang, as I went about my work/play. Catchy melody became a metaphorical 'earworm' for me & I remember it still.)

Just need to push a cutting into moist soil. It usually takes easily. I must have done a hundred or so then. Only a  few years ago, I took a willow cutting (Salix Viminalix or Common Osier Willow if I'm not mistaken) not far from the local brook & planted it in our somewhat gravelly front garden. It's now a fast-growing sapling, which greets us with lovely yellow catkins each Spring. Attracts bees & other insects. Birds perch on it. Pliably strong, Willow is a wonderfully useful material for weaving baskets, sculpture & whatnot.

 

(Pussy Willow Bowl by Lizzie Farey - willow sculptor & artist)

 

Like many other trees, it has medicinal properties. Willow bark (worse than its bite?!) contains salicin, converted by the body into salicylic acid, pain reliever & anti-inflammatory, precursor to Aspirin.

Fittingly, Kannon, Bodhisattva of Compassion, is shown holding a willow branch, while looking at the Moon in water, symbol of impermanence. Ink Painting attributed to Zen Monk Gakuo Zokyu. Iconographically, she is often depicted with a willow branch or leaf.

 

In my “own” small front & back gardens (not that I actually own them), have planted as many trees as will fit, forming a leafy oasis in the conformist suburbia of what Alan Watts so punningly & appropriately called “lawn order” (many local “gardeners” use petrol-driven lawn mowers, spewing out toxic fumes & eradicate “weeds”, otherwise known as wild flowers, with carcinogenic weed-killers, but I digress...)

Though somewhat sceptical about the notion of ethical, “green” consumerism, it’s worth a try. For instance, it’s now possible to buy 100% dark organic chocolate, whose manufacturers guarantee to plant a tree for each bar purchased. Some other organic snacks also promise this. Thus, am I able to plant 7 trees a week on average, thru sheer gustatory self-indulgence. A win-win situation if ever there was one.
 

*

                

So many trees get the chop! Wood has been a useful material throughout human history (& pre-history!) Consider its many uses. Wood for building, furniture, sculpture, cutlery  etc. People circumnavigated the globe in wooden ships.

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This is an aged, weathered "found object", serendipitously discovered on a Scottish mountainside in the 1970s. Looked at from different angles, it's a bird, a dolphin, elephant, mouse, some sort of animal life-form, who-knows-what. It had a longer twisted trunk or nose but it broke off, during my travels over the years.

 

 

 

 

Here's a little wooden carving I got in the Philippines, near the Rice Terraces at Banaue. It represents a "Bulul," which the Ifugao of Northern Luzon would traditionally use to guard the Rice harvest & in healing. "The sculptures are highly stylized representations of ancestors and are thought to gain power and wealth from the presence of the ancestral spirit. The Ifugao are particularly noted for their skill in carving bulul."

- Wiki

I keep it in the kitchen.

 

 

***

Back to my roots...

Back

 

 

 

Words are obviously not enough!

   click pic?

 

                                              

BURNING ISSUE

 

spreading like wildfire

more than a metaphor

our predicament's dire

prognosis poor

 

***

 

Touch wood?

“The origin of the custom may be in Celtic or Germanic folklore, wherein supernatural beings are thought to live in trees, and can be invoked for protection. One explanation states that the tradition derived from the pagans who thought that trees were the homes of fairies, spirits,  dryads and many other mystical creatures. In these instances, people might knock on or touch wood to request good luck, or to distract spirits with evil intentions. When in need of a favour or some good luck, one politely mentioned this wish to a tree and then touched the bark, representing the first "knock". The second "knock" was to say "thank you"... some traditions have it that by knocking upon wood, you would awaken and release the benevolent wood fairies that dwelt there.”

-Wikipedia

 

Trees, both physical & symbolic, offer Protection & Blessings:

 

    

Karma Kagyu ( Tibetan Buddhist) Refuge Tree

& get a load of this:

Guru Rinpoche YabYum Lineage Tree

(Nyingma, unless I'm mistaken)

Songs of Frustrated Lust & Seduction (See Page 10: “tantrika seeks yogini/with a view to yabyum “)
 

There are Tibetan wish-fulfilling Jewel Trees as well. Must get one for the garden. Local garden centre doesn't stock them. Maybe they only grow in the Himalayas?

Remember, Siddhartha Gautama is said to have attained Enlightenment under a tree, the Bodhi or Bo Tree, "Tree of Awakening", a kind of fig tree:

 

click pic?

 

“When reality is experienced in its nature of ultimate perfection, an almond tree that may be in your front yard reveals its nature in perfect wholeness. The almond tree is itself truth, reality, your own self. Of all the people who have passed by your yard, how many have really seen the almond tree?
What counts is your own heart. If your heart is not clouded by false views, you will be able to enter into a natural communion with the tree. The almond tree will be ready to reveal itself to you in complete wholeness. To see the almond tree is to see the way. One Zen Master, when asked to explain the wonder of reality, pointed to a cypress tree and said, ‘Look at the cypress tree over there.’”

 

- “The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh

 Scientific materialist koan:

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Maybe only the sound of one hand clapping?

    
 

Trees are depicted as sacred in other traditions too. For instance, Yggdrasil  is an immense mythical tree which plays a central role in Norse cosmology:

    And:

 

“Here are we, one magical movement from Kether to Malkuth”

Bowie,
Station to Station

***

GAIA (1989) - Alex Grey


"The day after our daughter, Zena was born I had a vision of Gaia, the World Soul. Gaia was the tree of life or web of life with her roots in the subatomic, atomic, molecular, and cellular levels of matter (mater/mother) reaching upward through the oceans, stones, soil, grass, forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, air, and atmosphere to nurture all plants and creatures. A natural cycle of birth, sustenance, and death was woven into the tapestry of Nature, Gaia continuously gave birth to life through the love energy in her heart. The future generations of humanity were symbolized by a human mother nursing in Gaia’s cave.


Gaia’s body was being ravaged and destroyed by man, reflecting the present crisis in the environment. A diseased and demonic phallus had erected structrues all over the earth to suck dry Gaia’s milk and turn it into power and money. The wasteland of a disposable culture was piled high and was seeping into the microgenetic pool causing diseases and defects in the Great Chain of Life.
 

Emerging also from that microgenetic level – but on the side of Nature – was an evolutionary alarm represented by a large “seeing” hand which catalyzed the collective will of the people, enabling them to see, with eyes of unobstructed vision, the actions necessary to stop the destruction of the world soul."

   ***  

From the sublime maybe to the endearingly ridiculous, a version of the Fall, where we are rescued by cooperation & mutual aid:

click pic for another view of Pooh

click pic for more about A.A.Milne

An original Winnie-the-Pooh 100 "Aker" Wood map by E.H.Shepard sold for £430,000, in 2018.

It contains drawings of many trees on paper made from trees.

Real trees are, of course, priceless. Current "Market Value" is another matter.
 

 

 

So far haven't met any Tiggers, Piglets, Kangas, donkeys or even Pooh bears in my local woods. I imagine there are rabbits. People do walk their dogs there. It's dog heaven, plenty of scents to follow, & trees to cock their legs by & pee.

The somewhat rude idiomatic expression ‘do bears shit in the woods’ was once axiomatic. There are fewer bears around at this time of Mass Extinction, but nevertheless tread carefully. Who knows what may be underfoot?

PS

- a few more thoughts about the value & significance of TREES,

eloquently expressed in this translation of Herman Hesse:

 

“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 force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”


- Herman Hesse, Baume, Betrachtungen und Gedichte

 

I think that about buttons things up

 

 

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