Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Among the Trees

Winter returned to us this week, and I am surprisingly feeling more settled and content. It just didn't seem right to be having spring; winter is rich for its demands and constraints - we are forced to be more creative in some ways, needing to spend more time inside than we do in other seasons. I need some winter to mull in, to find those parts of me I am a little uncomfortable with, to get a sense of the depths. (I can almost hear Dan say, "oh no, not the depths. pleeease not the depths.") I think it is necessary to find those places in order to shed old growth and start the new. Isn't that what this time of year is all about? I need to feel those limitations, and I think it has something to do with needing to feel like we deserve spring, the newness, the second chance, when it finally comes.

Today we went out to see what winter had to say.
The girls right away began addressing the trees like this: Hello, Breathing Buddies! Eliza went on and on in her greetings, and included hugs and pets. Ani chirped along next to me, explaining how we need the trees in order to have clean air to breathe. They are on Our Side.
In truth, we chose this hike because of one tree in particular. The beech tree. We have just finished a book that was first published in 1921 - The House Above the Trees by Ethel Cooke Eliot. We loved this story - an orphaned girl named Hepatica (we cannot wait to see these flowers this year) finds she can see clearly the spirits of the forest and has a long beautiful adventure with them. Her guardian on this journey is Tree Mother, who nightly ascends a huge beech tree, to sleep in her house above the trees. While I sat to think about what beech trees we might know, as the girls were imagining the climb Hepatica had up its branches, Eliza suddenly remembered that the tree we like to visit and bounce on is a beech. It worked better than chocolate to get the girls on the path today.
A great beech tree rose up...Its leaves and branches looked black against the moonlight, but the sound of their breathing and movement was green. Tree Mother put her hand on the dark trunk. "This is the stair to my house," she said. "We must climb."

When I Am Among The Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

~Mary Oliver, Thirst


Kerry said...

Love that poem!
I miss the beech trees that grow on my parents' farm; we don't have them out here. And how I miss my favorite little wildflowers: the hepatica. Sigh.

Merry said...

What gorgeous pictures, Deb!! Can't decide which one is my favorite - the curious deer? the layered tree? the snow on the tongue? the beautiful girls? So many favorites! A beautiful blog, and a good reminder that there is beauty and lessons to be learned in each season, even if we're tired of the cold and snow!

softearthart said...

How special is winter,a time to "go inwards" and reflect. What lovely trees, we are having summertime in New Zealand, golden sunlight. cheers and "Happy days" Marie

The Magic Onions said...

It looks so beautiful... stark and wild!
Thanks so much for sharing on Friday's Nature Table.
Blessings and magic.

The Magic Onions said...
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renee @ FIMBY said...

Great winter pics. And love that header.