Monday, January 12, 2015

the oaks

I have been stalking these tree stumps for a couple of months now, but this is the first time I have shared them here.


In late fall, when there were still remnants of green in our world and the temperatures were tolerable, I took notice of a collection of Oak trees being taken down.  Of course my first reaction was one of disgust; the removal of trees, in a place with relatively so few, always elicits harsh judgment from me before any other reaction.  


The Oaks stood closely adjacent to a road that I travel often and so almost daily I was witness to the progress of their removal.  I began on a regular basis stopping to record this progress with my camera.  Upon my first stop I discovered that many of them, the largest ones in particular, were rotten at their core and so I suppose it was out of precaution that they were chosen for removal.  


But still I could not help the feeling that there was something unnatural in their demise.  They, without the privilege of falling when they could no longer stand, to return slowly and quietly to the ground which grew them; were chopped and chipped and driven away.  I suppose there is a kind of tree hugger in me; I who grew up in the land of the Spotted Owl and those who camped in limbs to protect them.  


I stopped to see the Oaks again this morning. Now they are wrapped in snow, some of them almost completely buried.  They call me now, recording them has become a kind of creative spur for me.  Their beauty now is in how they speak beyond their own existence; of nature and process, beauty, man, time and memory. The spicy, sweet smell of their flesh triggers youthful memories of living in a forest, of things loved and lost and that will ever walk with me.  


I have come to think of myself as, a Midwest girl in my heart, but a mountain girl in my bones.  Hearts change and grow, they can adjust, they fall and are rescued, they gain perspective.  But bones, they are constant, they are called back always to the land that formed them, bones are like fish in water, roots in the ground, they can breathe only for so long in a foreign land.

With gratitude,
Joanna

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