Thursday, February 25, 2010

tree fall

"its roots are bristling in the air
like some mad earth-god's spiny hair;
the loud south-wester's swell and yell
smote it at midnight, and it fell."



i was walking along a snowy trail
a few kilometres south of here.

it was absolutely silent
but for the creaking of the trees

the leaners
you know

the ones that have fallen
but not completely fallen -
making a soft wooden kind of
sound
that feels brown
and grainy
and old.

~

i came 'round a bend
in the trail
and saw this fallen tree


bark hanging in tattered strips
from its fractured body



and i felt such empathy.

but then too
i felt
the loop of its life.

skybound

and then

earthbound.


beauty
like ribbons
draped over
its folded
and bent body

32 comments:

Elisabeth said...

A tree like an old man, spent and tired but with such a history etched into its bark hide. Thanks, Steven.

NanU said...

i just love this soft wooden sound...

Bachelor said...

Wow! Grest pics here and the poem is fantastic. Hope you have a happy day! :) The Bach

steven said...

hey bach thanks for all your comments here and on other posts. i've been consumed with schoolwork and family commitments and so my usual practice of responding to every comment has slipped of late. i almost always find some happiness in a day so thanks for the wish!!! steven

steven said...

nanu - i wish i could add sound to my posts because so often they are a key element of the telling of the story aren't they!! have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

elisabeth - i sometimes think of the stories these old trees have contained in them . david suzuki wrote an amazing book called "a tree" in which he chronicles the life of a tree from "birth" to "death" while it lived on the west coast of british columbia here in canada. it rejigged my sense of living things completely. have a lovely day. steven

Pauline said...

This a wonderful tribute to a fallen tree. I thought of Suzuki's The Tree the moment I read this post - marvelous book! A life gone saddens us all, but teaches us too, to appreciate life all the more. That you can capture the beauty in both words and photos is a gift to the rest of us. Thanks.

steven said...

ha!! pauline that's so cool that you know the book also. it's an amazing book. at first glance i thought i was in for a scientific analysis but it's a work of poetry and art that unpacks a tree's life with the same dignity and care as one would unpack a person's life. have a lovely day. steven

Barry said...

I feel much empathy for the tree as well, Steven. Your photos are highly evocative and primal.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Steven - you have captured the beauty in decay and collapse so artfully - again. The photos illustrate, too, how there is a role to be played, at every stage of existence.

Dan Gurney said...

This was an evocative post. There is great awareness and dignity in trees. They speak a much quieter language than we are used to listening for, but speak they do.

One way to add sound is to click your camera into video mode (I imagine it has one) and take video. Upload that to YouTube, link, and there you go. Sound and motion. I've done it once or twice for my blog. It's more work than posting pictures and during a busy school year, I'm not likely to find the time.

staceyjwarner said...

So beautiful! First, I love Thomas Hardy. Second, I used the roots of a tree as a metaphor on my blog yesterday. We are in sync Steven.

much love

ellen abbott said...

All the textures and patterns, the strength implied. Beautiful in life and death.

Jennifer said...

Steven, I know exactly the sound. I hear it daily, too, on my woodsy walks. You capture it so well, with words and photos and poetry as you do. I like your simple phrase, "the leaners, you know."

Golden West said...

We are so fortunate to be beckoned outdoors by Nature's beauty in every season. And it's so nice to stop by every morning and know you will have captured a compelling portrait.

Lorac said...

All life returns to the earth! Lovely prose and great pics. Thank you!

jinksy said...

The strands of the tree almost look as though they are waiting to be woven into a new form - maybe they are...

Linda Sue said...

We live in tree land, one of the many reasons I moved here from the plains. Trees that have fallen here usually become mothers, nurse trees. Delightful to see all of the little ones springing up and out of her, side by side at various levels of development. At the base of each one is a dense thick bright green moss to make sure that their roots are ensured good footing as they grow and take over for the nurse tree as she goes slowly back into the young and the earth that their roots are now firmly planted in.I have hugged a tree today, nearly every day- recharges my batteries- the neighbors just roll thier eyes..."typical", they say...

Reya Mellicker said...

The images are absolutely beautiful, Steven. I wonder if that creaking sound isn't a tree's version of a swan song. Do you think?

In most of my encounters with fallen trees, they seem pretty darn philosophical about it - here today, gone tomorrow. It's we humans who freak out when trees fall.

The huge 50' pine tree that fell on Tennessee Avenue during the blizzard was planted as a Christmas tree in 1958, or so says the next door neighbor. Imagine a Christmas tree that grew to 50' over 50 years. Wow.

steven said...

hey barry - this is a young forest, lots of tall thin trees all clustered together. i really like it in there, it's a big space with lots of sound and the wind catches on the tree trunks so well. this was an old one - that fell - and i connected to it being brought to its knees unexpectedly. it made me think of my dad for some reason although he flew away quite happy. steven

steven said...

bonnie you're so right - this tree will become food for animals, flowers, trees, and so coninues its beautiful connection with the whole of everything. steven

steven said...

dan you're poking me along a path i've avoided - the video - oh i know it's there on my digicam - but i've been afraid of the youtube thing for reasons i can't articulate. i know it's coming because more and more i recognize that some of what i wish to share is more sensory and i can't carry the weight of the moment in words and images alone. thanks my friend. steven

steven said...

stacey j. i've not been out and about the last few days as i've been busy with professional and personal commitments. taking care of the golden fish has been almost all i've allowed myself outside of that. i'll nip over to your home some time soon and read through the big catch up!!! steven

steven said...

ellen it's amazing how much energy it takes to fell a tree and yet this even likely took milliseconds. then there's the unfolding beauty of decay - which is beautiful in a very different way to the beauty of growth. do you think of the life of your glass through time? steven

steven said...

jennifer - it's the coolest, scariest sound, because some of those leaners do eventually fall but listening to them rubbing and groaning and moaning with their soft wooden bodies is pure magic on a walk. i'm so glad you know what i mean. steven

steven said...

golden west, i feel so very fortunate to have people who are able to share in these moments and who share their own specila take on this place. steven

steven said...

hey lorac! the body aims skywards then returns earthwards. the soul disregards all of that! steven

steven said...

jinksy, these bark strands could have been woven into a basket, or a cradleboard, or perhaps this fallen tree could have formed the frame for a home. the colours led me to feel like a weaving could emerge. steven

steven said...

linda sue - when i moved here from toronto one of the simple and powerful attractions was the treeness of this place. seen from the air it's a forest with houses, seen from the ground it's not quite that but pretty close. i love to spend time in the woods. i feel it as a treat, a gift. i haven't hugged trees, but i have talked to them, i have listened to their stories, i have told their stories here. steven

steven said...

reya, when i look out my classroom window at very old trees and think to the farm that stood right where i stand and teach and know that those very same trees saw what i cant and know what i wish . . . well i am in awe and i love that they are sentient and yet also philosophical - yes they are!!! steven

Delwyn said...

Hi Steven

your tree is like an ancient woolly mammoth, not yet done...

I love tree language - the ways that they speak to each other and to us, from swishing whispers to loud groans...

Happy days

BT said...

steven, we are definitely connected somewhere in cyber space, as I was thinking exactly the same today. Do you remember 'The Woven' that I made? Now it is rotting and falling apart slowly, the willow struts are still stong but will eventually go back to the soil - from whence they came. Beautiful photos.