Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with leading you on a meandering tour of the virtual garden of delights and curiosities and thoughts that make up my world – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
P is for…
psithurism: (noun) sound of wind in the trees; rustling leaves
One of the things I love about Spring is taking walks and watching the trees as they change day by day, week by week. Every year I think I’ll make a project of it, photographing certain trees (or every tree depending on my ambition) but I’ve never gotten around to it. I just look with my eyes, and delight when the trees start budding and then the leaves start unfurling. I never cease to be amazed – it feels so incredibly magical. And that Spring green – that luminous yellow-infused green that appears ever-so briefly is one of my favorite colors. I swear when I see it I literally feel my heart chakra open.
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.”
I’ve been meditating a lot on those words of late. Don’t they seem exactly the right words to hear at the moment?
One of the books I turn to frequently when I need a little dose of beauty is The Night Life of Trees. I am over-the-treetops in love with Tara Books Publishing, a collective of artists, writers and designers who produce books in India, some of them handmade. They have a wonderful vision/mission and are producing some real treasures. This was the very first book I purchased from them years ago, and I still swoon over it. The art, done by members of Gond Tribe, is silk screened onto black handmade paper, and each tree is accompanied by a short folk tale. A book with so many things I love – folk tales, trees, gorgeous art, and handmade paper! So lovely.
My love of trees started when I was a child. There was a large Sycamore tree that held court in front of my childhood home. I thought it was quite magical and as a child when I first began having dreams of flying, the branches of this beloved tree were always my dream launching pad. Years later when diseased claimed it and other neighboring clan members and it had to be cut down, I mourned. I wish I had a photo of it, but it only lives in my memory, and I have to settle for collecting other photos.
The American Sycamore has the largest leaves of any native tree in America. The trunks can reach a circumference of 50 feet. They can live 500-600 years, and it’s common that at around 100-200 years the trunks become hollow. Animals and birds favor it for shelter, but in the past hollow trees also provided shelter for travelers. There is even a third generation Sycamore tree in West Virginia that in the 1700s provided residence for two brothers, John and Samuel Pringle, for 3 years. Gives a new spin to the concept of tree house, doesn’t it?
I somehow like the idea of becoming hollow with age. I don’t think of it as losing essential parts but rather refining our essence and becoming vessels that can truly hold as much light as possible. And like my beloved Sycamore tree, I wouldn’t mind someone taking flight from my branches.
I love this quote, part of a work by artist Brian Andreas:
“When I die, she said, I’m coming back as a tree with deep roots and I’ll wave my leaves at the children every morning on their way to school and whisper tree songs at night in their dreams. Trees with deep roots know about the things that children need.”
Isn’t that a fabulous intention? I want to whisper tree songs at night in dreams and wave my leaf hands.
What about you? In love with trees? Any one in particular? Are you deeply rooted? Or feeling top heavy? Have a favorite book about trees? Or a song? Do tell – you know I love to hear.