Summer has come and turned a windy spring into a wet, green world. I’ve wanted to write about how this transformation leaves me wide eyed every spring, about the subtle magic that accompanies the unfurling of the trees. I spend these bright lit days looking up, astounded that it has happened again: that knife-sharp, lime-green spatter against the first blue days. I’ve reached for the words, the turn of phrase, to sum up the colours: the contrast between the blazing ripple of a beech; the warp and weft of dark and light beneath the growing canopies of woodland; the tannic green of oaks, solid and deliberate, fingers touching. Every spring I search for the words and ever year I fail.
Perhaps it has nothing to do with clumsy words and everything to do with just being there, beneath the trees, the damp earth heart quickening, waking slowly and seeping into the seat of your trousers. Every new shoot, every bluebell, anemone, every fall of blossom, snapping their fingers before your eyes. It’s about waking up after a winter of directionless skies and feeling the pull of the light, seeing a small track opening between the hawthorn and the hazel that tells you, “this way…”
And it all begins with the trees.
“Single trees are extraordinary; trees in number more extraordinary still. To walk in a wood is to find fault with Socrates’s declaration that ‘Trees and open country cannot teach me anything, whereas men in town do.’ Time is kept and curated and in different ways by trees, and so it is experienced in different ways when one is among them. This discretion of trees, and their patience, are both affecting. It is beyond our capacity to comprehend that the American hardwood forest waited seventy million years for people to come and live in it, though the effort of comprehension is itself worthwhile. It is valuable and disturbing to know that grand oak trees can take three hundred years to grow, three hundred years to live and three hundred years to die. Such knowledge, seriously considered, changes the grain of the mind”
THE WILD PLACES. by Robert Macfarlane.
Here’s a song for spring by the wonderful Matt Hopwood – sorry there’s no pretty thumbnail! For best results please listen whilst lying beneath a beech tree with your bare toes in a puddle of sunlight – a light breeze is optional.
I cannot stay away from this woman’s work. Beautiful. If anyone has similar poetry recommendations, please let me know.
WHEN I AM AMONG TREES by Mary Oliver
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,”
they say, “and you, too, have come
into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine.”