Friday, July 6, 2012

Tree Consciousness

Trees are a powerful symbol for life.
The rood of Christ, said by some sources to be made from a dogwood;
and the Bodhi tree, a fig tree under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment,
are two which have religious significance.
 But there are also many literary and film references to trees 
that have consciousness and in some cases, the ability to speak,
from Baum's mischievous apple trees in the Wizard of Oz to Tolkien's race of Ents,
to the tree of souls in the James Cameron  film Avatar.

Yesterday I mentioned that we had passed by a tree in the Botanical Garden
which seemed to exhibit what some writers have referred to as "tree consciousness."
On greater reflection, I would say there are actually two
that seemed more conscious than the others.
Before I show them, here are a few we encountered 
which were unique in their own way.

The flower buds on this one reminded me of popcorn. 
In full flower they look very much like dogwood blossoms:

The long pods on this catalpa were memorable:

Here's a tree that surrendered to a Dutchman's pipe vine:

 And this one, riddled with holes in neat horizontal rows:

These hornbeam  trees stand quietly in a row of their own making:

They almost seem alive to me with their dark and twisted trunks.

But which ones seem to send out subtle messages 
that they are indeed conscious?
This old magnolia definitely whispers.
This photo doesn't show it, but the bench 
is completely hidden as one approaches the tree.
Only when one is directly in front of the tree is the green bench revealed.
And the massive twisting branches curl around it, 
promising a quiet place for reflection and rest.

And this live oak, off by itself on the water's edge
appeared particularly sentient.
It started its life straight and tall 
and then inextricably and mysteriously, it bowed down. 
But still it sent its branches upward, seeking, into the sky.
Is it weeping? Or dancing?
Or perhaps doubled over in  laughter?
Maybe we simply caught it unaware 
as it bent to take in  a long, cooling sip of water
at the end of a very hot and humid day.

If it knows, it's not telling.
Tomorrow, we arrive at the butterfly garden.

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