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Valentine: The Voices of Trees 

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship.  But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.  Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves.  No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.  ~John Muir


How the land must have pulsed with the magnificent movement of trees. Impossible to comprehend what the great primeval Redwood and Sequoia forests of California must have been like before we chose to cut them down. In 1850, old- growth redwood forest covered more than 2,000,000 acres of the California coast, until the rush for gold and resources changed the situation.

The trees' dusty green needles knitted a fresh carpet each year when they floated down to the earthen floor.  Their branches forming an evergreen canopy mirrored by their deep roots, keeping the enormous vertical giants in place. What our ancestors must have witnessed we can only imagine.


Recently, I mourned the passing of beloved poet, Mary Oliver and noted how close she, as well as Muir, lived with trees.  She writes about her green sisters and how she loved to climb up into their branches and attempt to count their leaves.  She was admonished for this. Some said it was risky behavior for her age and she might end up in hospital.  She replied,

"I try to be good but sometimes a person just has to break out and act like the wild and springy thing one used to be. It's impossible not to remember wild and want it back."

Oliver's trees must have delighted in her wildness and the feeling of her walking upon their branches, praying attention to their every leaf. It seems she embraced life fully and the great arm of Cape Cod, which held her will not be the same in her absence. Nor will the many who drank up her words like a spoonful of medicine.  Remedy for grief: We have her poems, yes, and all the meaningfulness of them. We have the many voices of nature through her words of trees and leaves and all her feathered friends.  Certainly, the wrens who are singing through the branches around her dear Black Pond.


A Dream of Trees

There is a thing in me that dreamed of trees,
A quiet house, some green and modest acres
A little way from every troubling town,
A little way from factories, schools, laments.
I would have time, I thought, and time to spare,
With only streams and birds for company,
To build out of my life a few wild stanzas.
And then it came to me, that so was death,
A little way away from everywhere.

There is a thing in me still dreams of trees.
But let it go. Homesick for moderation,
Half the world’s artists shrink or fall away.
If any find solution, let him tell it.
Meanwhile I bend my heart toward lamentation
Where, as the times implore our true involvement,
The blades of every crisis point the way.

I would it were not so, but so it is.
Who ever made music of a mild day?

 ~Mary Oliver

We love you Mary Oliver and we love you John Muir!




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