Sunday, November 9, 2008

Trees and Distance

As we get more clothes from closets and attics, trees shed their leaves and stand gloriously nude. Like people, some seem to dance even as they stand still, showing their lives in the body gesture of limbs and response to gravity. Dancers hold themselves as if gravity were an option, and they might defy it at any moment. Some trees do the same, while others seem to embrace it and the ground beneath them. I am drawn right up to the trunks of many, and touch them quietly, reverently.

I'm never done looking at the lovely lines of trees when they begin budding in the spring. I step back from them, mentally and emotionally, as they add their green blossoms and leaves. I pick out the different species at seventy MPH from the highway, using the shades and textures.

Summer is when I watch trees move in the wind, and see them as masses of light and dark. I love lollipop trees in the summer, and the points on the tops of Tulip Poplars. I look to see trees in silhouette on the ridges of hills, or across large fields. Summer is probably when I enjoy trees at the greatest distance.

But in autumn I am drawn sharply closer again, and I lose the trees entirely in the distraction of the individual leaves. Their flights to the ground, the rush I get seeing leaves in the tiny twisters of fall, the colors of them against the sky or against the grass... I want to pick up hundreds and save them. It used to trouble me deeply that their colors couldn't be preserved, but now I just enjoy the splurge and let it pass.

Most leaves combine colors like masters, getting maximum impact and never clashing. Others, like the ash trees, combine colors that cancel each other, so the result from a distance looks like smoke or shadow without a form to cast it.

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille <<<< You have heard, perhaps, of the Welsh Rabbit (which some misname the Welsh Rarebit)? This is the pastel Etienne thinks of as the Cornish Rabbit, large and cheeky at Lands End, with the blue of the entire North Atlantic behind him to the West. He ages with grace in the stairway hall, even though he is drawn on nothing more glamourous than brown paper shopping bag... As the hibiscus blossom says in The Marzipan Pig, "We can't all be posh." He lacks even glass or a proper mat - but all love him and he is happy. Perhaps he is a cousin of the Velveteen Rabbit?


Mathman6293 said...

I will be linking to your blog today.

susan said...

Have you noticed too that trees forming a glade or a forest define one another in their outlines against the sky? Nothing ever jars or seems out of place in a natural landscape.

Pagan Sphinx said...

Beautiful images and words. And I have a special fondness for rabbits.

Steve Emery said...

MathMan - Many thanks! I've been reading When Will I Use This more regularly, and will link it, as well.

Susan - Yes, I've also often marveled at the order of groves, where every tree takes the perfect shape to fit snugly up against the others. All choreographed by the fall of photons. But it's a race, and there are chemical battles being fought over decades. We hiked recently in a forest where the previous harmony between the oaks and the pines (ten years ago) has been replaced by the triumph of the oaks.

Pagan - Thank you. Rabbits are fun to draw, and not nearly as intimidating as horses!

Odd Chick said...

that was a most beautiful writing about trees - it said the things i think but could never put into words. i've always loved trees- they hold a very spiritual quality in them and I've written your prose in my journal to return to again and again.

linda said...

what beauty you have shared in your words and memory of trees I have known...I love your term "lollipop" trees but have yet to find one around me that I might call that...mine are more licorice trees :)

and I love rabbits and am always picking up one here and there, but none living anymore...your "large and cheeky" rabbit is just as our LIVE one used to be...thanks for the memory! :) I too would keep mine in the hall forever, if he looked like that!

Anonymous said...

I love it in the early winter, when all the trees are finally empty of their leaves. The ones that line the ridges of the hills look, from a distance, like the bristle hair of a man's buzz cut against the sky.

Your writing is lovely and how apropos to what MathMan posted.

Steve Emery said...

Dcup - I like that image you paint, on a ridge top... There's a painting in there.