Wednesday’s Wondrous World: Trees

Columns, Wednesday’s Wondrous World

“A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.” – William Blake

Unless you live in the industrial section of a major city, trees are everywhere. And they are wondrous to behold.

What we see when we look at a tree is pretty impressive. Trunks of various shapes and sizes, bark of different hues and textures, twisted and curved and straight branches, leaves of various sizes, shapes and colors define each tree out there. No two trees look alike.

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Beneath the surface is the greatest measure of many a tree. Root systems of incredible proportions, spreading out for yards around the trunk below the earth. These roots pull moisture and nourishment from the soil, giving life to the tree reaching towards the sky.

Scientifically, trees are very important to us. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while themselves releasing oxygen essential to our lives. Trees play an important role in preventing soil erosion, habitats for numerous animals, shade from the sun, and play a major role in the capability the Earth to sustain life overall.

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Trees have featured prominently in mythology across the world. There are Biblical references to trees, Greek myths about Dryads and trees, Native Americans saw the sacred in numerous trees, and the Norse mythology of the World Tree are but a few examples of this. Trees are important in fiction, too, such as the Heart Trees in George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, or the children’s story The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Trees can live for hundreds of years, reach impressive heights and girths, and support life in places where this might be otherwise impossible. They provide us with fruits and nuts and sap for sustenance.

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Like you or me, trees are alive. They are covered in skin (bark) and have limbs and stand upright. They certainly do not think as we do, but who’s to say they do not have thoughts? Trees see the world around them grow and change over decades beyond our lifespans.

Years ago, in Ithaca, New York, there was a tree in Stewart Park beside Lake Cayuga. This particular tree leaned out over the water of the lake at a good 25-30 degree angle. I cannot tell you how many times, while I lived in Ithaca, I climbed that tree’s trunk, and sat on one of its thick branches over the lake. It was there I would eat my lunch, read a book, write in my journal, or simply meditate. For years after I moved away, whenever I returned I would take a moment to visit my tree beside the lake. I spoke to it. It was like the most stalwart of companions. I do not know when it was removed, but I was saddened by its absence when one day I visited and it stood there no more (and I could not find a picture of it to share here!)

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Trees are abundant, and yet we readily take them for granted. Forests are decimated without a thought as to the impact this might have on our climate and our future. Trees provide so very many things, and ask only for rain, sunlight, and nutrients from the earth.

Trees are an incredible wonder of our world. No matter the region you live in, no matter if its tropics or a temperate zone, there are trees. Palms, pines, oaks, elms, poplars, fig, cedar, yew, and many many many more types around the world, trees are wondrous.

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Whether you acknowledge them or no, climb up their branches, seek shade from the sun, lean against their trunks for rest, or anything else you can think of, trees are amazing.

“A tree is an incomprehensible mystery.” – Jim Woodring.

 

 

Me 3-25-13 smallerI am MJ Blehart, author of “Wednesday’s Wondrous World”.  Every week I will be sharing a wonder of this amazing world, and I hope you will enjoy the journey with me!

Check out my blog, The Ramblings of a Titanium Don, for more of my philosophical and topical opinions.

Also now available, Pathwalking: A 21st Century Philosophy in Book and Kindle form!

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