Greetings from my tree house. For all who wish peace and love for the world’s people, its creatures and plants, I have assembled this tree-themed photo essay.
Trees especially, because, though in many places in the world it is the season for cutting down and decorating trees to display indoors, I prefer my trees to remain alive in their natural decorations, their roots deep in the earth-world they nurture with their embrace.
All the trees featured here are native to New Zealand, many are endemic – they grow nowhere else in the world. Some are male, some female, some bisexual; their juvenile appearance may be different from their adult form. I love them all. I raised and planted them all during the last seventeen years (except the tree house of course).
I have always felt the living presence
The forest that calls to me as deeply
As I breathe,
As though the woods were marrow of my bone
[Michael S. Glaser]
I part the out thrusting branches
And come in beneath
The blessed and the blessing trees.
Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.
And see the peaceful trees extend
Their myriad leaves in leisured dance
That tree whose leaves are trembling: it is yearning for something.
[Diego Hurtado de Mendoza]
I was raised by the song of the murmuring grove.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
Walk idly around it and rest under its shadow.
Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.
And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.
Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.
a green thought in a green shade.
In whose gracious company we spend so many cool, silent and intimate hours.
Every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.
What did the tree learn from the earth to be able to talk with the sky?
Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does.
[George Bernard Shaw]
Let me desire and wish well the life
These trees may live when I
No longer rise in the mornings.
That my soul may repose on the branches of the trees which I planted,
[Part of an inscription on an ancient Egyptian tomb]
[With gratitude to online sources of poetry: Spirit of Trees; Poetry in Nature; Interesting Literature]
All of these photographs are of my own trees, all of which (except the tree house pine) I have raised and planted over the last twenty years. This post takes on special significance this year because I have now completed a nature memoir that shares my emotional and physical experience as a migrant who stopped in New Zealand’s northern sand country to plant hundreds of native trees, and lives within the community of nature’s creatures that the trees now nurture.
Woven into the memoir is the deep-time formation of the surrounding landscape – the dunes, the lakes, the wetlands and the long beach are all ‘cousins’ formed by the same ancient process of erosion and the sea’s deposition – along with some local history, and the mythology of living nature that supported me from both Māori culture and my own Celtic heritage. I hope the memoir will be published in the coming year, and I will post progress.
Dr Trish Nicholson, a social anthropologist, is the author of A Biography of Story, A Brief History of Humanity, a global social history of the power of stories in the comedy and tragedy of human affairs. You can also order this book from your favourite bookshop (print only)
“Stories are like deep-rooted trees that survive through flood, drought, heat and cold to provide fruits that nourish each generation gathered within the shade of their branches.” [A Biography of Story, A Brief History of Humanity p.413]