We’re only a few days into autumn and my annual tree obsession has begun. It’s way too early here to start seeing changing colors but that matters not. I’m dreaming about trees, reading about trees, having conversations with them, and imagining putting together a leaf “scrapbook” like I did as a child, collecting pretty fallen leaves and then researching what kind of tree they came from.
Hermann Hesse was a poet, novelist, and painter, constantly exploring one’s authentic nature, self-knowledge, and spiritual issues. He had a deep love for trees, and I think what he says about them is both beautiful and a powerful invitation to live in sovereign wholeness.
“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. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.”
Such wise words!
It’s been ages since I’ve done a book review here, but I’ve got a couple of books to share. They’re about trees, and yet not the kind of trees we normally think of. But as I say, there’s nothing like expanding our definitions and understanding of things.
First up is The Paper-Flower Tree, a children’s book by Jacqueline Ayer. It’s a delightful tale from Thailand starring a little girl named Miss Moon who has a charming encounter with a peddler selling paper flowers adorning a tree he’s carrying. While she can’t afford it, Miss Moon wishes for nothing more than to have a paper flower tree of her own. The kind-hearted man gifts her with a flower and tells her, while he can’t promise, if the flower happens to have a seed and she plants it, it might well grow into her own tree. I, of course, encourage you to read the story to find out what happens, but in keeping with my practice of awarding a rating based on floriography, the language of flowers, giving a hint at the plot as well as my appraisal, I offer an Orange Tree (generosity); surrounded by White lilac (youthful innocence); Swamp Magnolia (perseverance); and Lily of the Valley (return of happiness).
Next up is The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge by Manuel Lima. It’s a delightful collection of information visualization using tree diagrams on a wide range of various subjects. The book covers 800 years of examples and I’m especially enamored of the illuminated manuscript diagrams. There’s something about this book that really appeals to my map making fascination, and I expect I’ll be turning to this repeatedly. My floriography rating for this one is a bouquet of Pink Acacia (elegance) and Angelica (inspiration).
Given that I’ve been dreaming a lot about trees lately, I can’t help but be reminded of this fabulous video I want to share Behind the Trees. I’m a huge fan of both Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer, and this is an animated video conversation she had with sleeping Neil. Makes me smile everytime.
So what do you think? Have trees been calling to you as well? Do you believe, as I do, that trees are true wisdom keepers? Have any book recommendations to share? More of a forest or trees kind of person? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
Love Neil Gaiman too! We have many trees around here, and when I go places where there aren’t any (or many) I feel a starkness and emptiness. Last autumn we had glorious fall colors, but I’m thinking there won’t be as many this year. Our weather has been very different. I hope I’m wrong!
I agree Margaret – it feels strange and unsettling to be somewhere where there aren’t trees. I hope it turned out that you found lots of autumn color to enjoy.
Absolutely a dendrophile here! I love how the trees whisper and chatter and leave me wondering how to interpret them… Sorry to be brief – am in travel mode and limited time/i’net! Sending love for the autumn season to you. YAM xx
It’s always a delight to greet a sister dendrophile and know you’re receptive to the magic. Hope your autumn is turning out to be marvelous.
Hi Deborah – interesting video from Amanda with her husband. I love trees … and what they can teach us … from little seeds, great things grow and support so much. Your two books look fascinating … love the Thai book, while Manuel Lima’s books are always eye-opening – so excellent suggestions. Your floriography is a delight … cheers Hilary
I love thinking of trees as great teachers – I can definitely sit at their roots and listen all day long. I hope you’re finding lots of time to read and research and have tons of wonderful experiences this autumn Hilary.
OH YEAH… I love this one! Especially this time of year when the trees are in the full glory…
I embrace those quiet times out of doors, with my cool dog..conversing with the entire Universe as the breeze entices the trees to do its dance of life…
And on this fine day, I gathered GIANT acorns…just because! Although, while walking out there today, I should’ve worn a hardhat, cause those GIANT acorns hurt from such very might tall oaks… HAVE A FINE DAY, FRIEND!
Ah yes Vicki – all those are wondrous joys! And I’m delighting in the image of collecting giant acorns, all the while dancing an avoid-getting-hit dance. How fun. May the rest of autumn bring equally enjoyable times.
I saw an exhibition of Jacqueline Ayer’s work last year – gloriously bright, cheerful, and humorous.
I love trees. Horse chestnuts are my favourites, or perhaps beeches.
Oh how lovely Kathleen that you got to see an exhibition of Ayer’s work! I can never decide on a favorite tree, although right now I’m finding birches quite compelling.
Fantastic article, dear Deborah. As you know, I love threes too. The wisdom they share, the trust they provide, the empowering and comforting energy…
I’ve been focusing on other projects and energies for a while, adjusting to a new normal and slowly returning back to blogland and all its beautiful souls within.
Hope all is well and sending you a big hug again.
I’m always reminded of how our lives have cycles like trees – sometimes we’re expending our energy outward with new leaves, and other times letting go of things and turning dormant. All perfect. Wishing you all the best always Patty.