Awhile ago, I took of a photo of an old oak tree that was perhaps misshapen by the elements and because of this, it was fascinating, beautiful to my eye. I loved the way it bent and twisted and yet reached towards the sky. Gnarly could be a word to describe it. I could see the beauty in gnarly although the word, gnarly, doesn’t have a great connotation.
That said, my mind equated it to beauty. I am neither an experienced nor representational painter. Yet, this photo image of the tree spoke to me. I used it as inspiration for my painting of a stylized Tree. Too many of us think of trees as inanimate, as non-communicative, as unfeeling.
I’m reading a book, Braiding Sweetgrass, by the author, Robin Wall Kimmerer. She is Native American and her family was shifted from reservation to reservation. She remembers the Pecan Trees in the various places where she and her family have lived over the generations. The Pecan Trees–no matter where they are physically located across the country–all produce the fruit, the pecan nut, at the same time. And, then, they don’t produce for years at a time. What is gleaned from this fact, is that there is an underground communication system among the pecan trees whereby they concur, regardless of climatic conditions and local geographic factors, to produce fruit.
Fascinating, right? So walking on a trail by the lake yesterday, I encountered a friend riding his bicycle. We chatted briefly in a casual way. Then, out of the blue, he says that he communicates with the trees during his seven mile bike ride around the lake. That when he moved here many years ago, he was impressed with the trees, their beingness. That he felt he could turn to them for counsel.
“Haven’t some of them, the old growth, been standing here for years?” He added, “Haven’t they seen the whole human play unfold?”
I was shocked by the synchronicity of my painting and his thoughts on trees. I responded, “You are weird.” By that I meant wow, how can it be that we’re both on this tree wavelength. Today it occured to me how the earth, trees, nature, etc. infiltrate our thoughts and beings when we are receptive. How they speak through us about what is needed to preserve life on earth. The conservation efforts, the environmental impetus of a world in jeopardy. Are these quests all earth and nature-instigated? Humans think they have these brilliant ideas…but who is our coach and guide? The earth herself, perhaps.
At some point, maybe we realize that we are the spokespersons for our planet. At some point, we might remember that we are visitors here. We hope to leave this earth home that we’ve only borrowed, intact and viable for future generations. And, for the other life forms that exist, survive and thrive here besides humans.