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Friday, June 28, 2013

The Generosity of Trees

What do you like best about trees: Climbing? Swinging? Shade? Lumber? Fruit? Birds? What is your favorite tree? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1257).

One of the starkest scenes I can imagine is if in all climes the world over the landscape should lie barren of trees. The Beatles had a song “Can You Imagine?” Can anyone of us imagine how depressing it would be to be devoid of the softening yet noble effect of trees? From our earliest days we can remember playing within the shade of.....lying among the leaves of.....running our hands along the bark of.....the luxurious and generous sustenance of trees. They were a fact to be dealt with, accepted, and enjoyed. Going into a grove of trees is a trek imbued with mystery. One of my brother’s earliest memories is being carried on the shoulders of our dad towards evening down a sidewalk canopied with low hanging limbs. Hoot owls perched in the trees would haunt the evening with their sound which served to enshroud the walk with a sense of wonder and danger. Sometimes I think dad would add to the foreboding by letting out a little hoot of his own. One of my earliest memories is a row of Australian palms that lined a ditch near our home in Okeechobee. On some exceptional evenings, small black bats would dart among the trees. Once, perhaps because of a crippling injury, dad was able to hold a quiescent bat in his hands as I focused intently on the membrane forming its wings. Later in Oviedo, I watched in silence as a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis that was attached to the bark of a tree. Later as teens, we boys enjoyed swinging from a long rope tied to a high limb and dropping into the water at the bend of a river. And down the river a ways, a felled tree, half-submerged, rested with several turtles basking in the sun along its length. My wife Kathy used to enjoy photographing trees that had built up over time what can only be called character. Trees are very kind to us. They adorn stark structures erected by man with nature's camouflage that would otherwise reveal unrelieved utility.

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