Happy Earth Day!
April 22, 2012
Unbound: Speculations on the Future of the Book
May 5, 2012
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Patterns stop me, interrupt trains of thought, perfectly good runs, conversations and sometimes even presentations. Beautiful, graphic, repetition. Bold shapes repeated over and over and over again.

The above shadow play, certainly not a rigid repeating pattern, but a pattern nonetheless line the Ashuwillticook trail. I run this rail trail near my house, especially when I am in need of a flat run. But just noticed, stopped in my tracks when I saw these patterns today and looked at the trees from a renewed lens.

I began thinking of J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day, which is celebrated today, the last Friday of April in MA, and many of our states, and something that he said about trees.

A tree is the perfection of strength, beauty, and usefulness of vegetable life. It stands majestic through the sun and storm of centuries. Resting in summer beneath its cooling shade, or sheltering besides its massive trunk from the chilling blast of winter, we are prone to forget the little seed whence it came. Trees are no respecters of persons. They grow as luxuriantly beside the cabin of the pioneer as against the palace of the millionaire. Trees are not proud. What is this tree? This great trunk, these stalwart limbs, these beautfiul branches, these gracefully bending boughs, these gorgeous flowers, this flashing foliage and ripening fruit are only living materials organized in the laboratory of Nature’s mysteries out of rain, sunlight, dews and earth. 

And it all comes from a little tiny seed. Morton goes on to describe the process of planting and the science behind what happens to the seed as it becomes the tree, finishing his address with the commentary on how humans have cut down and consumed trees, but often do not replant or restore the forests. This sentiment was his reasoning behind creating Arbor Day.

Planting a seed, any seed is a commitment to the future, a fostering of hope, a belief that the tiny little thing will grow into something solid and massive, life-giving and beautiful.

My tree work and writings began as a way of creating my own forest in a treeless city. It was a gathering of friends, a gathering of quiet and peace, in an otherwise noisy place. I have seen the transformative power of trees for the earth and for humanity, and I honor this today with plans and actions of how I can be a better tender of the earth.


1 Comment

  1. Tara says:

    Melanie – those images remind me strongly of your She book. Maybe it’s the color palette? I like the metaphor of a tree for a human life too. A tree is all contained. All of it’s accomplishments, different limbs coming from the same tiny seed, are immediately visible. But humans are much like trees, all starting from a tiny seed, and growing, with many different branches representing their accomplishments.

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