Today working through the alphabet in the A-to-Z blogging challenge, creating a manifesto using unusual words, we have arrived a letter D and the word dendrophilous.
Dendrophilous means “fond of trees; thriving in an environment with trees; living in or on trees.”
I’m definitely a tree lover and tree hugger; I feel such kinship with trees and am always looking for ways to connect and deepen my relationship. I literally swooned when I discovered the Sanskrit word for tree, padapa, means the one drinking with its foot. Knowing that, can you ever look at a tree in the same way again?
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.
I never cease to be inspired in the presence of trees, and it seems true for others as well. There are so many wonderful books written about and projects inspired by trees.
The Night Life of Trees has to be on of my all-time favorite books. Created by Gond tribal artists Durga Bai, Bhaiju Shyam and Ram Singh Urveti it offers brief little folkloric descriptions accompanied by gorgeous illustrations that are hand-screened prints on black paper. A book with so many things I love – folk tales, trees, gorgeous art, and handmade paper! I love the publishers – Tara Publishing – they have a wonderful vision/mission and are producing some real treasures. These cards are based on art contained in the book.
Another favorite of mine is Bark: An Intimate Look at the World’s Trees by Cedric Pollet. There are seriously amazing photos in this book, and if you don’t fall in love with trees even more after seeing these photos then I reserve the right to be utterly perplexed.
Then there’s the Thame & Hudson volume, publishers of beautifully illustrated art books. entitled The Tree of Life: Symbol of the Centre by Roger Cook. So many gorgeous pieces of art to pore over and so many explorations of the symbolic meanings of the tree of life.
I also enjoy the Tree Wisdom Cards by artist Lisa McLoughlin. The back of each card contains a little blurb as well as the name of the tree she’s illustrated.
Another project that lights my heart is Treewhispers, initated in the year 2000 by artists Pamela Paulsrud and the late Marilyn Sward, which gathers round, usually handmade papers from participants around the world. On the papers, contributors have remembered a tree or the spirit of a tree. Some contributions are simply a magnificent example of beautiful handmade paper and some include text and/or imagery. Some suggest tree rings, depict leaves or illustrate a personally significant tree; others are imprinted with a poem or a meaningful story relating to trees.
I have great love for a giant Sycamore 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 launching pad. Years later when disease claimed it and other neighboring clan members and it had to be cut down, I mourned.
But even without my personal bias, I think these trees are special. 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 three years. Gives a whole new level to the concept of tree house!
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 sagacity from Jen Delyth:
“Threefold wisdom of the tree:
Leaf wisdom – of change, ever releasing;
Branch wisdom – of growth, ever reaching;
Root wisdom – of endurance, ever deepening.”
Although I live in a major metropolitan area in a neighborhood with very small property lots without room for backyard trees, almost every house our block has a street-side tree. Every day I think of their benevolent presence watching over our neighborhood, holding branch hands across the block, welcoming birds and squirrels, keeping an eye on us all. Mostly they’re silent and watching, probably in deep meditation, but they whisper in the breeze and dance in the wind, and it all makes me happy.
I want to live in a dendrophilous world aware of the gifts the magical trees bestow upon us all.
What about you? Do you feel a particular affinity with trees? Have any tree stories to share? Books to recommend? Tree love to spread? What messages do trees whisper to you? Do tell – you know I’d love to hear.