Tree Trunk Life Quotes

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To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures who people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing--I'm sorry, I would rather not go on.
Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow. Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail. A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live. When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all. A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother. So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.
Hermann Hesse (Bäume: Betrachtungen und Gedichte)
I've enjoyed every age I've been, and each has had its own individual merit. Every laugh line, every scar, is a badge I wear to show I've been present, the inner rings of my personal tree trunk that I display proudly for all to see. Nowadays, I don't want a "perfect" face and body; I want to wear the life I've lived.
Pat Benatar (Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir)
Lathis rattle against steel railings. Drenched half-naked men, some with torn shirts, jump up and down waving their fists. Some chant ‘Bande Mataram,’ others ‘Mazdur ki jai,’ whatever is their preference, the motherland or the brotherhood of workers. The hammer and sickle, red but limp, flaps like a half-dead fish against the trunk of a banyan tree. The sky cries monsoon tears; it has been crying all night.
Michael Tobert (Karna's Wheel)
During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was--but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasureable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked upon the scene before me--upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain--upon the bleak walls--upon the vacant eye-like windows--upon a few rank sedges--and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees--with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium--the bitter lapse into everyday life--the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart--an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime.
Edgar Allan Poe (The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales)
And there were carved hearts in the trunks of trees with the initials of couples who felt there was no more romantic thing they could do to celebrate their love than scar the local plant life
Kevin Hearne (Hunted (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #6))
Let us have wine and woman, mirth and laughter, Sermons and soda water the day after. Man, being reasonable, must get drunk; The best of life is but intoxication: Glory, the grape, love, gold, in these are sunk The hopes of all men, and of every nation; Without their sap, how branchless were the trunk Of life's strange tree, so fruitful on occasion: But to return--Get very drunk; and when You wake with head-ache, you shall see what then.
Lord Byron (Don Juan)
The gingko tree leans lazily against the facing wall or perhaps it supports it; Stephen cannot be sure. The dense ridges of its bark now appear like rippled sand with, here and there, pools left behind by the tide. The bark is pocked with white spots, holed and crinkled with age, seemingly dead but for the life sprouting in its leaves, so smooth, so green, so deep. How remarkable this tree is, how changeable, how mysterious its leaves and branches and trunk … how infinite. Stephen reaches for another pipe. The smoke rubs out his yesterdays and tomorrows. There is only now, this tree, this pipe. Another pipe, ah, another pipe.
Michael Tobert (Karna's Wheel)
As we age, we feel less like leaves and more like trees. We have roots that ground us and sturdy trunks that may sway, but don't break, in the wind.
Meg Jay (The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter - And How to Make the Most of Them Now)
You can date the evolving life of a mind, like the age of a tree, by the rings of friendship formed by the expanding central trunk.
Mary McCarthy (How I Grew)
Say the planet is born at midnight and it runs for one day. First there is nothing. Two hours are lost to lava and meteors. Life doesn’t show up until three or four a.m. Even then, it’s just the barest self-copying bits and pieces. From dawn to late morning—a million million years of branching—nothing more exists than lean and simple cells. Then there is everything. Something wild happens, not long after noon. One kind of simple cell enslaves a couple of others. Nuclei get membranes. Cells evolve organelles. What was once a solo campsite grows into a town. The day is two-thirds done when animals and plants part ways. And still life is only single cells. Dusk falls before compound life takes hold. Every large living thing is a latecomer, showing up after dark. Nine p.m. brings jellyfish and worms. Later that hour comes the breakout—backbones, cartilage, an explosion of body forms. From one instant to the next, countless new stems and twigs in the spreading crown burst open and run. Plants make it up on land just before ten. Then insects, who instantly take to the air. Moments later, tetrapods crawl up from the tidal muck, carrying around on their skin and in their guts whole worlds of earlier creatures. By eleven, dinosaurs have shot their bolt, leaving the mammals and birds in charge for an hour. Somewhere in that last sixty minutes, high up in the phylogenetic canopy, life grows aware. Creatures start to speculate. Animals start teaching their children about the past and the future. Animals learn to hold rituals. Anatomically modern man shows up four seconds before midnight. The first cave paintings appear three seconds later. And in a thousandth of a click of the second hand, life solves the mystery of DNA and starts to map the tree of life itself. By midnight, most of the globe is converted to row crops for the care and feeding of one species. And that’s when the tree of life becomes something else again. That’s when the giant trunk starts to teeter.
Richard Powers (The Overstory)
What a thing to acknowledge in your heart! To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing-I’m sorry, I would rather not go on.
Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
When you walk through a forest that has not been tamed and interfered with by man, you will see not only abundant life all around you, but you will also encounter fallen trees and decaying trunks, rotting leaves and decomposing matter at every step. Wherever you look, you will find death as well as life. Upon closer scrutiny, however, you will discover that the decomposing tree trunk and rotting leaves not only give birth to new life, but are full of life themselves. Microorganisms are at work. Molecules are rearranging themselves. So death isn't to be found anywhere. There is only the metamorphosis of life forms. What can you learn from this? Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.
Eckhart Tolle (Stillness Speaks)
Nancy waded out to her own rocks and searched her own pools and let that couple look after themselves. She crouched low down and touched the smooth rubber-like sea anemones, who were stuck like lumps of jelly to the side of the rock. Brooding, she changed the pool into the sea, and made the minnows into sharks and whales, and cast vast clouds over this tiny world by holding her hand against the sun, and so brought darkness and desolation, like God himself, to millions of ignorant and innocent creatures, and then took her hand away suddenly and let the sun stream down. Out on the pale criss-crossed sand, high-stepping, fringed, gauntleted, stalked some fantastic leviathan (she was still enlarging the pool), and slipped into the vast fissures of the mountain side. And then, letting her eyes slide imperceptibly above the pool and rest on that wavering line of sea and sky, on the tree trunks which the smoke of steamers made waver on the horizon, she became with all that power sweeping savagely in and inevitably withdrawing, hypnotised, and the two senses of that vastness and this tininess (the pool had diminished again) flowering within it made her feel that she was bound hand and foot and unable to move by the intensity of feelings which reduced her own body, her own life, and the lives of all the people in the world, for ever, to nothingness. So listening to the waves, crouching over the pool, she brooded.
Virginia Woolf (To the Lighthouse)
when my mother was pregnant with her second child i was four i pointed at her swollen belly confused at how my mother had gotten so big in such little time my father scooped me in his tree trunk arms and said the closest thing to god on this earth is a woman’s body it’s where life comes from and to have a grown man tell me something so powerful at such a young age changed me to see the entire universe rested at my mother’s feet
Rupi Kaur (Milk and Honey)
Live or die, but don't poison everything... Well, death's been here for a long time -- it has a hell of a lot to do with hell and suspicion of the eye and the religious objects and how I mourned them when they were made obscene by my dwarf-heart's doodle. The chief ingredient is mutilation. And mud, day after day, mud like a ritual, and the baby on the platter, cooked but still human, cooked also with little maggots, sewn onto it maybe by somebody's mother, the damn bitch! Even so, I kept right on going on, a sort of human statement, lugging myself as if I were a sawed-off body in the trunk, the steamer trunk. This became perjury of the soul. It became an outright lie and even though I dressed the body it was still naked, still killed. It was caught in the first place at birth, like a fish. But I play it, dressed it up, dressed it up like somebody's doll. Is life something you play? And all the time wanting to get rid of it? And further, everyone yelling at you to shut up. And no wonder! People don't like to be told that you're sick and then be forced to watch you come down with the hammer. Today life opened inside me like an egg and there inside after considerable digging I found the answer. What a bargain! There was the sun, her yolk moving feverishly, tumbling her prize -- and you realize she does this daily! I'd known she was a purifier but I hadn't thought she was solid, hadn't known she was an answer. God! It's a dream, lovers sprouting in the yard like celery stalks and better, a husband straight as a redwood, two daughters, two sea urchings, picking roses off my hackles. If I'm on fire they dance around it and cook marshmallows. And if I'm ice they simply skate on me in little ballet costumes. Here, all along, thinking I was a killer, anointing myself daily with my little poisons. But no. I'm an empress. I wear an apron. My typewriter writes. It didn't break the way it warned. Even crazy, I'm as nice as a chocolate bar. Even with the witches' gymnastics they trust my incalculable city, my corruptible bed. O dearest three, I make a soft reply. The witch comes on and you paint her pink. I come with kisses in my hood and the sun, the smart one, rolling in my arms. So I say Live and turn my shadow three times round to feed our puppies as they come, the eight Dalmatians we didn't drown, despite the warnings: The abort! The destroy! Despite the pails of water that waited, to drown them, to pull them down like stones, they came, each one headfirst, blowing bubbles the color of cataract-blue and fumbling for the tiny tits. Just last week, eight Dalmatians, 3/4 of a lb., lined up like cord wood each like a birch tree. I promise to love more if they come, because in spite of cruelty and the stuffed railroad cars for the ovens, I am not what I expected. Not an Eichmann. The poison just didn't take. So I won't hang around in my hospital shift, repeating The Black Mass and all of it. I say Live, Live because of the sun, the dream, the excitable gift.
Anne Sexton (The Complete Poems)
When trees grow together, nutrients and water can be optimally divided among them all so that each tree can grow into the best tree it can be. If you "help" individual trees by getting rid of their supposed competition, the remaining trees are bereft. They send messages out to their neighbors in vain, because nothing remains but stumps. Every tree now muddles along on its own, giving rise to great differences in productivity. Some individuals photosynthesize like mad until sugar positively bubbles along their trunk. As a result, they are fit and grow better, but they aren't particularly long-lived. This is because a tree can be only as strong as the forest that surrounds it. And there are now a lot of losers in the forest. Weaker members, who would once have been supported by the stronger ones, suddenly fall behind. Whether the reason for their decline is their location and lack of nutrients, a passing malaise, or genetic makeup, they now fall prey to insects and fungi. But isn't that how evolution works? you ask. The survival of the fittest? Their well-being depends on their community, and when the supposedly feeble trees disappear, the others lose as well. When that happens, the forest is no longer a single closed unit. Hot sun and swirling winds can now penetrate to the forest floor and disrupt the moist, cool climate. Even strong trees get sick a lot over the course of their lives. When this happens, they depend on their weaker neighbors for support. If they are no longer there, then all it takes is what would once have been a harmless insect attack to seal the fate even of giants.
Peter Wohlleben (The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate: Discoveries from a Secret World)
The forest stretched on seemingly forever with the most monotonous predictability, each tree just like the next - trunk, branches, leaves; trunk, branches, leaves. Of course a tree would have taken a different view of the matter. We all tend to see the way others are alike and how we differ, and it's probably just as well we do, since that prevents a great deal of confusion. But perhaps we should remind ourselves from time to time that ours is a very partial view, and that the world is full of a great deal more variety than we ever manage to take in.
Thomas M. Disch (The Brave Little Toaster)
Upon closer scrutiny, however, you will discover that the decomposing tree trunk and rotting leaves not only give birth to new life, but are full of life themselves. Microorganisms are at work.
Eckhart Tolle (Stillness Speaks)
Our scars are like the rings in a tree trunk, showing its progress through life. How we heal and move forward through adversity . . . that is what makes the difference. We can’t run from our problems; we need to face them.
Morgan Rhodes (Crimson Dagger (Falling Kingdoms, #0.1))
I became totally absorbed into this forest existence. It was an unparalleled period when aloneness was a way of life; a perfect opportunity, it might seem, for meditating on the meaning of existence and my role in it all. But I was far too busy learning about the chimpanzees'lives to worry about the meaning of my own. I had gone to Gombe to accomplish a specific goal, not to pursue my early preoccupation with philosophy and religion. Nevertheless, those months at Gombe helped to shape the person I am today-I would have been insensitive indeed if the wonder and the endless fascination of my new world had not had a major impact on my thinking. All the time I was getting closer to animals and nature, and as a result, closer to myself and more and more in tune with the spiritual power that I felt all around. For those who have experienced the joy of being alone with nature there is really little need for me to say much more; for those who have not, no words of mine can even describe the powerful, almost mystical knowledge of beauty and eternity that come, suddenly, and all unexpected. The beauty was always there, but moments of true awareness were rare. They would come, unannounced; perhaps when I was watching the pale flush preceding dawn; or looking up through the rustling leaves of some giant forest tree into the greens and browns and the black shadows and the occasionally ensured bright fleck of blue sky; or when I stood, as darkness fell, with one hand on the still warm trunk of a tree and looked at the sparkling of an early moon on the never still, softly sighing water of Lake Tanganyika.
Jane Goodall
Inside that tiny seed, lives the roots, branches, bark, trunk, leaves, twigs and apple fruit of that apple tree. You can’t see, feel, hear, taste or smell any of that yet; nevertheless, it is all inside that seed. The moment the seed is in your hand— all of that is in your hand, too, from the root to the bark to the fruit! All you have to do is to push the seed into the soil. And what makes anyone plant any apple seed? It is the belief that in the seed, there is the tree. So, believe. To have a seed, is to have everything.
C. JoyBell C.
The Elm Log By Alexander Solzhenitsyn We were sawing firewood when we picked up an elm log and gave a cry of amazement. It was a full year since we had chopped down the trunk, dragged it along behind a tractor and sawn it up into logs, which we had then thrown on to barges and wagons, rolled into stacks and piled up on the ground - and yet this elm log had still not given up! A fresh green shoot had sprouted from it with a promise of a thick, leafy branch, or even a whole new elm tree. We placed the log on the sawing-horse, as though on an executioner's block, but we could not bring ourselves to bite into it with our saw. How could we? That log cherished life as dearly as we did; indeed, its urge to live was even stronger than ours.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Stories and Prose Poems)
... He went under the stars, and the tender light of the moon, when it hung like an eyelash and the tree trunks shone like bones. He walked through wind and weather, and beneath sun-bleached skies. It seemed to Harold that he had been waiting all his life to walk. He no longer knew how far he had come, but only that he was going forward. The pale Cotswold stone became the red brick of Warwickshire, and the land flattened into middle England. Harold reached his hand to his mouth to brush away a fly, and felt a beard growing in thick tufts. Queenie would live. He knew it.
Rachel Joyce (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Harold Fry, #1))
One conceals oneself standing silently beside the trunk of a tree and what there is of a reflective tendency in his nature is intensified. One shudders at the thought of the meaninglessness of life while at the same instant, and if the people of the town are his people, one loves life so intensely that tears come into the eyes.
Sherwood Anderson
Tarver,” she whispers, her eyes on my face. “There’ll be cameras all the time. More questions. Everyone will want to hear your story. Your life will be different, no matter how far from Corinth we go.” A flashlight flickers through the trees, broken and jagged as it shines past the trunks. The light glances off her face, illuminating her eyes for a brief, brilliant moment. I step closer. “I don’t care.” “My father will try to—” She swallows, then lifts her chin, mouth firming to a straight, determined line. “No. I’ll figure out a way to handle him.” I can’t help but grin down at her, this steely assurance, my Lilac through and through. “I’d pay to see that showdown.
Amie Kaufman (These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1))
A tree trunk is not a perfect cylindrical or rectangle shape. It's irregular and it's beautiful. That's how life is. Make peace with the mistakes and foolishness of past.
Shunya
when my mother was pregnant with her second child i was four i pointed at her swollen belly confused at how my mother had gotten so big in such little time my father scooped me in his tree trunk arms and said the closest thing to god on this earth is a woman's body it's where life comes from and to have a grown man tell me something so powerful at such a young age changed me to see the entire universe rested at my mother's feet
Rupi Kaur (milk and honey)
A young tree was bothered by the fact that a lot of tiny insects were living in its trunk. An old tree advised, “Focus on your larger self - roots, trunk, branches, leaves. The tiny insects will stop bothering you. Don’t let a woodpecker destroy you on the pretext of killing your insects.
Shunya
It was not without a certain wild pleasure I ran before the wind, delivering my trouble of mind to the measureless air-torrent thundering through space. Descending the laurel walk, I faced the wreck of a chestnut-tree; it stood up, black and riven: the trunk, split down the centere, gasped ghastly. The cloven halves were not broken for each other, for the firm base and strong roots kept them unsundered below; through communtiy of vitality was destroyed -- the sap could flow no more: their great boughs on each side were dead, and next winter's tempests would be sure to fell one or both to earth: as yet, however, they might be said to form one tree -- a ruin, but and entire ruin. 'You did right to hold fast to each other,' I said: as if the monster splinters were living things, and could hear me. 'I think, scathed as you look, and charred and scorched, there must be a little sense of life in you yet, rising out of that adhesion at the faithful, honest roots: you will never have green leaves more -- never more see birds making nests and singing idylls in your boughs; the time of pleasure and love is over with you; but you are not desolate: each of you has a comrade to sympathize with him in his decay.' As I looked up at them, the moon appeared momentarily in that part of the sky which filled their fissure; her disc was blood-red and half overcast; she seemed to throw on me one bewildered, dreary glance, and buried herself again instantly in the deep drift of cloud. The wind fell, for a second, round Thornfield; but far away over wood and water poured a wild, melancholy wail: it was sad to listen to, and I ran off again.
Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
It was a darkness without time. It was an impenetrable darkness. To the right and left of me rose those terrible formless things of my imagination, which I could not see because there was no light. I could not see, but I dared not close my eyes lest the darkness crawl beneath my eyelids and suffocate me. I could only hear. My ears became my being and I could hear the specks of life that crawled beneath my clothing, the rotting of the great tree which rose from its three-cornered trunk above me. I could hear the darkness gathering against me and the silences that lay between the moving things.
Robert Leckie (Helmet for My Pillow)
How true! Life's problems are like trees. We see the trunk, we see the branches and the leaves. But we can't see the roots, hidden deep down under the ground. And yet it is their shape and nature and how far they dig into the slimy humus to search for water that we need to know. Then perhaps we would understand.
Maryse Condé (Crossing the Mangrove)
THE WILD BOAR AND THE FOX A Wild Boar was engaged in whetting his tusks upon the trunk of a tree in the forest when a Fox came by and, seeing what he was at, said to him, "Why are you doing that, pray? The huntsmen are not out to-day, and there are no other dangers at hand that I can see." "True, my friend," replied the Boar, "but the instant my life is in danger I shall need to use my tusks. There'll be no time to sharpen them then.
Aesop (Aesop's Fables)
A possessive part of me wants to hoard this story. I want to chipmunk or squirrel away the memory of this event, place it in a tree trunk with the memories of all the other rapes, attempted rapes, and gropes, memories that will never be released or consumed. When a man asks, "What did he do to you?" he's asking to eat one of these traumatic acorns. Girls never ask for these seeds. They know what it's like to be degraded and fucked by this world, to be made a big-time bottom by life. They don't need the details of my particular shame to construct empathy.
Myriam Gurba (Mean)
There is something memorable in the experience to be had by going to a fair ground that stands at the edge of a Middle Western town on a night after the annual fair has been held. The sensation is one never to be forgotten. On all sides are ghosts, not of the dead, but of living people. Here, during the day just passed, have come the people pouring in from the town and the country around. Farmers with their wives and children and all the people from the hundreds of little frame houses have gathered within these board walls. Young girls have laughed and men with beards have talked of the affairs of their lives. The place has been filled to overflowing with life. It has itched and squirmed with life and now it is night and the life has all gone away. The silence is almost terrifying. One conceals oneself standing silently beside the trunk of a tree and what there is of a reflective tendency in his nature is intensified. One shudders at the thought of the meaningless of life while at the same instant, and if the people of the town are his people, one loves life so intensely that tears come into the eyes.
Sherwood Anderson (Winesburg, Ohio)
There is a tree. At the downhill edge of a long, narrow field in the western foothills of the La Sal Mountains -- southeastern Utah. A particular tree. A juniper. Large for its species -- maybe twenty feet tall and two feet in diameter. For perhaps three hundred years this tree has stood its ground. Flourishing in good seasons, and holding on in bad times. "Beautiful" is not a word that comes to mind when one first sees it. No naturalist would photograph it as exemplary of its kind. Twisted by wind, split and charred by lightning, scarred by brushfires, chewed on by insects, and pecked by birds. Human beings have stripped long strings of bark from its trunk, stapled barbed wire to it in using it as a corner post for a fence line, and nailed signs on it on three sides: NO HUNTING; NO TRESPASSING; PLEASE CLOSE THE GATE. In commandeering this tree as a corner stake for claims of rights and property, miners and ranchers have hacked signs and symbols in its bark, and left Day-Glo orange survey tape tied to its branches. Now it serves as one side of a gate between an alfalfa field and open range. No matter what, in drought, flood heat and cold, it has continued. There is rot and death in it near the ground. But at the greening tips of its upper branches and in its berrylike seed cones, there is yet the outreach of life. I respect this old juniper tree. For its age, yes. And for its steadfastness in taking whatever is thrown at it. That it has been useful in a practical way beyond itself counts for much, as well. Most of all, I admire its capacity for self-healing beyond all accidents and assaults. There is a will in it -- toward continuing to be, come what may.
Robert Fulghum (Uh-oh: Some Observations from Both Sides of the Refrigerator Door)
Instead of consoling us, my mother spoke sternly. 'Pull yourselves together. Surely I've brought you up better than this? we come into the world alone, and we leave it alone. And in between, too, if it is destined, we'll be alone. Draw on your inner strength. Remember, you can be your own worst enemy - or your best friend. It's up to you. And also this: what you can't change, you must endure.' I knew it was mostly to me that she'd spoken. 'Endure'. A word solid as a tree trunk. A good word upon which to build a life, I thought. I would learn it, and it would help me through dark times.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (The Forest of Enchantments)
As the wind swelled, my tree started to sway. Almost like a human body it swung back and around, gently at first, then more and more wildly. While the swaying intensified, so did my fears that the trunk might snap and hurl me to the ground. But in time my confidence returned. Amazed at how the tree could be at once so flexible and so sturdy, I held on tight as it bent and waved, twisted and swirled, slicing curves and arcs through the air. With each graceful swing, I felt less a creature of the land and more a part of the wind itself. "The rain began falling, it's sound merging with the splashing river and the singing trees. Branches streamed like waterfalls of green. Tiny rivers cascaded down every trunk, twisting through moss meadows and bark canyons. All the while, I rode out the gale. I could not have felt wetter. I could not have felt freer. "When, at last, the storm subsided, the entire world seemed newly born. Sunbeams danced on rain-washed leaves. Curling columns of mist rose from every glade. The forest's colors shown more vivid, its smells struck more fresh. And I understood, for the first time in my life, that the Earth was always being remade, that life was always being renewed. That it may have been the afternoon of this particular day, but it was still the very morning of Creation.
T.A. Barron (The Lost Years of Merlin (Merlin, #1))
Albine now yielded to him, and Serge possessed her. And the whole garden was engulfed together with the couple in one last cry of love's passion. The tree-trunks bent as under a powerful wind. The blades of grass emitted sobs of intoxication. The flowers, fainting, lips half-open, breathed out their souls. The sky itself, aflame with the setting of the great star, held its clouds motionless, faint with love, whence superhuman rapture fell. And it was the victory of all the wild creatures, all plants and all things natural, which willed the entry of these two children into the eternity of life.
Émile Zola (La Faute de l'abbé Mouret (Les Rougon-Macquart, #5))
When you measure water pressure in trees, you find it is highest shortly before the leaves open up in the spring. At this time of year, water shoots up the trunk with such force that if you place a stethoscope against the tree, you can actually hear it.
Peter Wohlleben (The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries from a Secret World)
But I’ve been thinking about how the trunks of trees bend and curve when they grow next to each other. Their leaves twist to accommodate each other. Their closeness reads on the shape of them, and you can infer the shape of one from the shape of another. When you know someone and you grow together, your shape and form become theirs. And so even though Rob is gone, and there’ll never be another Rob, another friend I’ve known as well or as closely, the impression his life left on me will always be there, and in that sense we haven’t lost him at all.
Nicola Dinan (Bellies)
Every time you stand at a crossroads of life and death, you have two universes in front of you; one loses all relation to you because you die, the other maintains its relation to you because you survive in it. Just as you would take off your clothes, you abandon the universe in which you are still alive. In other words, various universes emerge around each of us the way tree limbs and leaves branch away from the trunk.
Kenzaburō Ōe
To this day, my spiritual life is found inside the heart of the wild. I do not fear it, I court it. When I am away, I anticipate my return, needing to touch stone, rock, water, the trunks of trees, the sway of grasses, the barbs of a feather, the fur left behind by a shedding bison.
Terry Tempest Williams
We were strolling in the jungle that surrounds the Lilliputian volcanoes in the Middle Andamans. I found your mother stroking the trunk of a palm tree. It was a Corypha Macropoda in its final stages of life. Once it flowers, it dies. She asked me why it happened. It was how trees had evolved, I explained to her. Some had gone from producing hundreds of seeds with a diminished chance of survival to flowering only once but ensuring the seeds made it by giving them their best … Now I realize why she asked me that question. Your mother wanted me to know the answer. As a human being, I cannot look beyond life and death. But as a botanist, I see how limiting individual lifecycles can be to our understanding. Nature is a continuum. That is how it thrives.
Shubhangi Swarup (Latitudes of Longing)
They were dead; I could no longer deny it. What a thing to acknowledge in your heart! To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you.
Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
May I be a pillar on which upon you stand, a leaning post for young ones, my lover and my friend. May I be a beam of light that you bestow upon your hopes, your dreams, your wisdom, so we may carry on. May I be a beacon, a tree with roots so strong, treetop spreading high and wide, a trunk so wide and long. May I be your music a flute for you to play whatever you desire with each forthcoming day. May I lose myself to find you, support all those who need my love, my core, my laughter, permeate my every deed.
Petra Poje - Keeper of The Eye
But what the long walk had not done was reveal the cause of the inherent distaste that had sprung out of nowhere overtaking her there under the tree. On the cold, damp grass, or up against the rough tree trunk. He had done it many times without a second thought, and in more challenging situations. It would have been nothing at all to wrap her long legs around his waist, brace one hand against the tree trunk, hold her tight with his other arm, and give the lady exactly what she wanted. But for some reason he had not been able to do it. For the first time in his life, his body had been willing but his mind had not. Labeling the experience unpleasant would be a severe understatement.
Evangeline Collins (Her Ladyship's Companion)
Day after day, Mersault let himself sink into his life as if he were sliding into water. And just as the swimmer advances by the complicity of his arms and the water which bears him up, helps him on, it was enough to make a few essential gestures - to rest one hand on a tree trunk, to take a run on the beach - in order to keep himself intact and conscious.
Albert Camus (A Happy Death)
To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches.
Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
Our scars are like the rings in a tree trunk, showing its progress through life. How we heal and move forward through adversity . . . that is what makes the difference.
Morgan Rhodes (Crimson Dagger (Falling Kingdoms, #0.1))
It's like this, Bunny Boy, if you walk up to an oak tree or a bloody elm or something - you know, one of those big bastards - one with a thick, heavy trunk with giant roots that grow deep in the soil and great branches that are covered in leaves, right, and you walk up to it and give the tree a shake, well, what happens?' (...) 'I really don't know, Dad,' (...) 'Well, nothing bloody happens, of course!' (...) 'You can stand there shaking it till the cows come home and all that will happen is your arms will get tired. Right?' (...) 'Right, Dad,' he says. (...) 'But if you go up to a skinny, dry, fucked-up little tree, with a withered trunk and a few leaves clinging on for dear life, and you put your hands around it and shake the shit out of it - as we say in the trade - those bloody leaves will come flying off! Yeah?' 'OK, Dad,' says the boy (...) 'Now, the big oak tree is the rich bastard, right, and the skinny tree is the poor cunt who hasn't got any money. Are you with me?' Bunny Junior nods. 'Now, that sounds easier than it actually is, Bunny Boy. Do you want to know why?' 'OK, Dad.' 'Because every fucking bastard and his dog has got hold of the little tree and is shaking it for all that it's worth - the government, the bloody landlord, the lottery they don't have a chance in hell of winning, the council, their bloody exes, their hundred snotty-nosed brats running around because they are too bloody stupid to exercise a bit of self-control, all the useless shit they see on TV, fucking Tesco, parking fines, insurance on this and insurance on that, the boozer, the fruit machines, the bookies - every bastard and his three-legged, one-eyed, pox-riden dog are shaking this little tree,' says Bunny, clamping his hands together and making like he is throttling someone. 'So what do you go and do, Dad?' says Bunny Junior. 'Well, you've got to have something they think they need, you know, above all else.' 'And what's that, Dad?' 'Hope... you know... the dream. You've got to sell them the dream.
Nick Cave (The Death of Bunny Munro)
If I hit that tree with this stone, Rousseau says, all will go well in my life from now on. He throws and misses. That one didn't count, he says, so he picks up another stone and moves several yards closer to the tree. He misses again. That one didn't count either, he says, and then he moves still closer to the tree and finds another stone. Again he misses. That was just the final warm up toss, he says, it's the next one that really counts. But just to make sure, he walks right up to the tree this time, positioning himself directly in front of the tree. He is no more than a foot away from it by now, close enough to touch it with his hand. The he lobs the stone squarely against the trunk. Success, he says to himself, I've done it. From this moment on, life will be better for me than ever before. Nashe found it amusing but at the same time he was too embarrassed by it to want to laugh. There was something terrible about such candor, finally, and he wondered where Rousseau had found the courage to reveal such a thing about himself, to admit to such naked self deception.
Paul Auster
When they turned off, it was still early in the pink and green fields. The fumes of morning, sweet and bitter, sprang up where they walked. The insects ticked softly, their strength in reserve; butterflies chopped the air, going to the east, and the birds flew carelessly and sang by fits. They went down again and soon the smell of the river spread over the woods, cool and secret. Every step they took among the great walls of vines and among the passion-flowers started up a little life, a little flight. 'We’re walking along in the changing-time,' said Doc. 'Any day now the change will come. It’s going to turn from hot to cold, and we can kill the hog that’s ripe and have fresh meat to eat. Come one of these nights and we can wander down here and tree a nice possum. Old Jack Frost will be pinching things up. Old Mr. Winter will be standing in the door. Hickory tree there will be yellow. Sweet-gum red, hickory yellow, dogwood red, sycamore yellow.' He went along rapping the tree trunks with his knuckle. 'Magnolia and live-oak never die. Remember that. Persimmons will all get fit to eat, and the nuts will be dropping like rain all through the woods here. And run, little quail, run, for we’ll be after you too.' They went on and suddenly the woods opened upon light, and they had reached the river. Everyone stopped, but Doc talked on ahead as though nothing had happened. 'Only today,' he said, 'today, in October sun, it’s all gold—sky and tree and water. Everything just before it changes looks to be made of gold.' ("The Wide Net")
Eudora Welty (The Collected Stories)
You'll stay," he said firmly. "But-" He crossed his arms. "Do I look like a man in the mood to be argued with?" She stared at him mutinously. "If you run," he warned, "I will catch you." Sophie eyed the distance between them, then tried to judge the distance back to My Cottage.If he stopped to pull on his clothing she might have a chance of escaping, but if he didn't... "Sophie," he said, "I can practically see the steam coming out of your ears. Stop taxing your brain with useless mathematical computations and do as I asked." One of her feet twitched. Whether it was itching to run home or merely turn around, she'd never know. "Now," he ordered. With a loud sigh and grumble, Sophie crossed her arms and turned around to stare at a knothole in the tree trunk in front of her as if her very life depended on it The inferal man wasn't being particularly quiet as he went about his business, and she couldn't seem to keep herself from listening to and trying to identify every sound that rustled and splashed behind her.Now he was emerging from the water, now he was reaching for his breeches, now he was... It was no use.She had a dreadfully wicked imagination, and there was no getting around it. He should have just let her return to the house. Instead she was forced to wait, utterly mortified, while he dressed. Her skin felt like it was on fire, and she was certain her cheeks must be eight different shades of red. A gentleman would have let her weasle out of her embarrassment and hole up in her room back at the house for at least three days in hopes that he'd just forget about the entire affair.
Julia Quinn (An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons, #3))
Elephants command attention. But their size is not what makes the heart skip a beat. It's how they walk with the world's weight on their shoulders, sensitive, noble, their hearts pulsing and as wide open as the great grey leaves that are their ears. MoFos used to say that an elephant never forgets and until this very moment, I hadn't understood what that really meant. An elephant's memories don't reside in organ or skin or bone. They live closer to tree time than we do, and their memories reside in the soul of their species, which dwarfs them in size, is untouchable, and lives on forever to honor every story. They carry stories from generations back, as far as when their ancestors wore fur coats, That is why, when you are close to an elephant, you feel so deeply. If they so choose, they have the ability to hold your sadness so you may safely sit in the lonely seat of loss, still hopeful and full of love. Their great secret is that they know everything is a tide—not a black tide, but the natural breath of life—in and out, in and out, and to be with them is to know this too, And here they were, suddenly lifting the weight of our sadness for us, carrying it in the curl of their trunks. We all sat together in our loss, not dwelling, but remembering. For an elephant never forgets,
Kira Jane Buxton (Hollow Kingdom (Hollow Kingdom, #1))
Whatever the particularities of their history, these fallen trees have now started the next part of their journey through the ecology of this old-growth forest. Fungi, salamanders, and thousands of species of invertebrates will thrive in and under the rotting trunks. At least half a tree's contribution to the fabric of life comes after its death, so one measure of a vitality of a forest ecosystem is the density of tree carcasses. You're in a great forest if you cannot pick out a straight-line path through fallen limbs and trunks. A bare forest floor is a sign of ill health.
David George Haskell (The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature)
THE FORTRESS Under the pink quilted covers I hold the pulse that counts your blood. I think the woods outdoors are half asleep, left over from summer like a stack of books after a flood, left over like those promises I never keep. On the right, the scrub pine tree waits like a fruit store holding up bunches of tufted broccoli. We watch the wind from our square bed. I press down my index finger -- half in jest, half in dread -- on the brown mole under your left eye, inherited from my right cheek: a spot of danger where a bewitched worm ate its way through our soul in search of beauty. My child, since July the leaves have been fed secretly from a pool of beet-red dye. And sometimes they are battle green with trunks as wet as hunters' boots, smacked hard by the wind, clean as oilskins. No, the wind's not off the ocean. Yes, it cried in your room like a wolf and your pony tail hurt you. That was a long time ago. The wind rolled the tide like a dying woman. She wouldn't sleep, she rolled there all night, grunting and sighing. Darling, life is not in my hands; life with its terrible changes will take you, bombs or glands, your own child at your breast, your own house on your own land. Outside the bittersweet turns orange. Before she died, my mother and I picked those fat branches, finding orange nipples on the gray wire strands. We weeded the forest, curing trees like cripples. Your feet thump-thump against my back and you whisper to yourself. Child, what are you wishing? What pact are you making? What mouse runs between your eyes? What ark can I fill for you when the world goes wild? The woods are underwater, their weeds are shaking in the tide; birches like zebra fish flash by in a pack. Child, I cannot promise that you will get your wish. I cannot promise very much. I give you the images I know. Lie still with me and watch. A pheasant moves by like a seal, pulled through the mulch by his thick white collar. He's on show like a clown. He drags a beige feather that he removed, one time, from an old lady's hat. We laugh and we touch. I promise you love. Time will not take away that.
Anne Sexton (Selected Poems)
No silver seagrass or salt pans, no soldier crabs or sea tides to read, no seaweed necklaces to wear, and no skies filled with ghostly wisps of virga, warning of storms out at sea. On either side of the flat highway the land was thirsty, dry as a cracked tongue. Somehow, though, the strange landscape teemed with life. It hummed in Alice's ears, the clicking buzz of cicadas, the occasional wild cackle of kookaburras. There was the occasional blur of color where wildflowers grew at the base of gum trees. Some had trunks as white as fairytale snow while others we're an ochre color, as glossy as if covered in a slick of wet paint.
Holly Ringland (The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart)
DURING the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was; but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked upon the scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain—upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eye-like windows—upon a few rank sedges—and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees—with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveler upon opium—the bitter lapse into every-day life—the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart—an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime. What was it—I paused to think—what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher? It was a mystery all insoluble; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered. I was forced to fall back upon the unsatisfactory conclusion that while, beyond doubt, there are combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power lies among considerations beyond our depth. It was possible, I reflected, that a mere different arrangement of the particulars of the scene, of the details of the picture, would be sufficient to modify, or perhaps to annihilate its capacity for sorrowful impression; and, acting upon this idea, I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a black and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled luster by the dwelling, and gazed down—but with a shudder even more thrilling than before—upon the remodeled and inverted images of the gray sedge, and the ghastly tree stems, and the vacant and eye-like windows.
Edgar Allan Poe (The Best Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe)
When I look back on the sixteen years Perry and I have been married, I can see the places where we've made each other better. There are parts of us etched into each other like the rings in the trunk of a tree. We've grown, we've changed, we've been forever marked. And ultimately, we are so much better together than either of us would be on our own.
Melanie Shankle (The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life)
For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured.
Hermann Hesse (Bäume: Betrachtungen und Gedichte)
It turned out to be just his sort of life in Melbourne [Florida] -- a little three-room mini apartment to himself, and down on the strip, five different bars where you had women going around in bathing suits. In the backyard, his mother's new husband had grown a miraculous tree, a lemon trunk grafted with orange, tangerine, satsuma, kumquat, and grapefruit limbs, each bearing its own vivid fruit. Every morning, Jeff would go out and fill his arms, and squeeze himself a pitcher of juice, thick and sun-hot. That house was good for his mother, too. The swimming pool trimmed fifteen pounds off of her. She didn't seem to have moods anymore, and she didn't fly off the handle when Jeff beat her in the cribbage games they played most afternoons.
Wells Tower (Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned)
In the center of a garden reared a tree, glinting golden in the darkness, peppered with flowers that smelled of blood. The great yawning hollows of the trunk invited her in, promising a snug sanctuary. "They will suffocate you like a pillow of sand and you will never emerge alive," a chittering voice cried out. The patterns engraved on the tree's bark dizzied her eyes. "If your finger brushes against them, you'll know true madness." She glanced away from the bark, her eyes caught by a movement in the branches. A squirrel scurried down the trunk towards her. It didn't seem to be bothered that its tail was swathed in flames, or that something had eaten away at half of its rot-black face and torso. Death's pet project bared its teeth at her. "Do you really want to be here?
Angela Panayotopulos (The Wake Up)
For Hindus, banyan trees are sacred. For Buddhists, bodhi trees; for the Arabs, certain date palms. To be stalwart in a ‘tree-like’ way was to approach goodness, according to Confucius. The Normans built chapels in the trunks of yew trees. Many other cultures attached religious significance to particular trees and groves and forests. Adonis was born of a tree. Daphne turned into one. George Washington confessed to cutting one down and the United States, as a result, was all but immaculately conceived. The tree is the symbol of the male organ and of the female body. The Hebrew kabbalah depicts Creation in the form of a tree. In Genesis, a tree holds the key to immortal life, and it is to the branches and fruit of an olive tree that God’s people are likened in both the Old and New Testaments. To celebrate the birth of Christ his followers place trees in their sitting rooms and palm fronds, a symbol of victory, commemorate his entering Jerusalem. A child noted by Freud had fantasies of wounding a tree that represented his mother. The immortal swagman of Australia sat beneath a coolabah tree. In hundreds of Australian towns the war dead are honoured by avenues of trees.
Don Watson (The Bush)
With bare feet in the dirt, fulmia, ten times with conviction, will shake the earth to its roots, if you have the strength, Jaga’s book had told me, and the Dragon had believed it enough not to let me try it anywhere near the tower. I had felt doubtful, anyway, about conviction: I hadn’t believed I had any business shaking the earth to its roots. But now I fell to the ground and dug away the snow and the fallen leaves and rot and moss until I came to the hard-frozen dirt. I pried up a large stone and began to smash at the earth, again and again, breaking up the dirt and breathing on it to make it softer, pounding in the snow that melted around my hands, pounding in the hot tears that dripped from my eyes as I worked. Kasia was above me with her head flung up, her mouth open in its soundless cry like a statue in a church. “Fulmia,” I said, my fingers deep in the dirt, crushing the solid clods between my fingers. “Fulmia, fulmia,” I chanted over and over, bleeding from broken nails, and I felt the earth hear me, uneasily. Even the earth was tainted here, poisoned, but I spat on the dirt and screamed, “Fulmia,” and imagined my magic running into the ground like water, finding cracks and weaknesses, spreading out beneath my hands, beneath my cold wet knees: and the earth shuddered and turned over. A low trembling began where my hands drove into the ground, and it followed me as I started prying at the roots of the tree. The frozen dirt began to break up into small chunks all around them, the tremors going on and on like waves. The branches above me were waving wildly as if in alarm, the whispering of the leaves becoming a muted roaring. I straightened up on my knees. “Let her out!” I screamed at the tree: I beat on its trunk with my muddy fists. “Let her out, or I’ll bring you down! Fulmia!” I cried out in rage, and threw myself back down at the ground, and where my fists hit, the ground rose and swelled like a river rising with the rain. Magic was pouring out of me, a torrent: every warning the Dragon had ever given me forgotten and ignored. I would have spent every drop of myself and died there, just to bring that horrible tree down: I couldn’t imagine a world where I lived, where I left this behind me, Kasia’s life and heart feeding this corrupt monstrous thing. I would rather have died, crushed in my own earthquake, and brought it down with me. I tore at the ground ready to break open a pit to swallow us all.
Naomi Novik (Uprooted)
I don’t exist metal pressed to pages spilling blood, ink in vein each thought rages Sunlight shooting through a forest of pines black top winding and yellow dotted lines I am not here only a deep aching, a lightning flash and a tree trunk breaking Sheets once alive covered in a deep red mark the present but I am not yet dead Nothing is here only the rain and mist fresh air and soil I do not need to exist.
Abby Musgrove
To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It
Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
The essence of the suicides consisted not of sadness or mystery but simple selfishness. The girls took into their own hands decisions better left to God. They became too powerful to live among us, too self-concerned, too visionary, too blind. What lingered after them was not life, which always overcomes natural death, but the most trivial list of mundane facts: a clock ticking on a wall, a room dim at noon, and the outrageousness of a human being thinking only of herself. Her brain going dim to all else, but flaming up in precise points of pain, personal injury, lost dreams. Every other loved one receding as though across a vast ice floe, shrinking to black dots waving tiny arms, out ofhearing. Then the rope thrown over the beam, the sleeping pill dropped in the palm with the long, lying lifeline, the window thrown open, the oven turned on, whatever. They made us participate in their own madness, because we couldn't help but retrace their steps, rethink their thoughts, and see that none of them led to us. We couldn't imagine the emptiness of a creature who put a razor to her wrists and opened her veins, the emptiness and the calm. And we had to smear our muzzles in their last traces, of mud marks on the floor, trunks kicked out from under them, we had to breathe forever the air of the rooms in which they killed themselves. It didn't matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn't heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house, with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out ofthose rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will.
Jeffrey Eugenides (The Virgin Suicides)
Suddenly, it wasn't just Emeline's song flooding out, but something else. A thick and shimmering power gushed out of her, like blood from a wound. Around her, the clearing changed. Pale, dead leaves cascaded to the forest floor like snow. The trunks of the trees changed from powdery white to deep browns and dappled greens, color spreading like a blush from their roots to their branches. New leaves began to bud and unfurl, teeming with life.
Kristen Ciccarelli (Edgewood)
Trees stand at the heart of ecology, and they must come to stand at the heart of human politics. Tagore said, Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. But people—oh, my word—people! People could be the heaven that the Earth is trying to speak to. “If we could see green, we’d see a thing that keeps getting more interesting the closer we get. If we could see what green was doing, we’d never be lonely or bored. If we could understand green, we’d learn how to grow all the food we need in layers three deep, on a third of the ground we need right now, with plants that protected one another from pests and stress. If we knew what green wanted, we wouldn’t have to choose between the Earth’s interests and ours. They’d be the same!” One more click takes her to the next slide, a giant fluted trunk covered in red bark that ripples like muscle. “To see green is to grasp the Earth’s intentions. So consider this one. This tree grows from Colombia to Costa Rica. As a sapling, it looks like a piece of braided hemp. But if it finds a hole in the canopy, the sapling shoots up into a giant stem with flaring buttresses.” She turns to regard the image over her shoulder. It’s the bell of an enormous angel’s trumpet, plunged into the Earth. So many miracles, so much awful beauty. How can she leave so perfect a place? “Did you know that every broadleaf tree on Earth has flowers? Many mature species flower at least once a year. But this tree, Tachigali versicolor, this one flowers only once. Now, suppose you could have sex only once in your entire life. . . .” The room laughs now. She can’t hear, but she can smell their nerves. Her switchback trail through the woods is twisting again. They can’t tell where their guide is going. “How can a creature survive, by putting everything into a one-night stand? Tachigali versicolor’s act is so quick and decisive that it boggles me. You see, within a year of its only flowering, it dies.” She lifts her eyes. The room fills with wary smiles for the weirdness of this thing, nature. But her listeners can’t yet tie her rambling keynote to anything resembling home repair. “It turns out that a tree can give away more than its food and medicines. The rain forest canopy is thick, and wind-borne seeds never land very far from their parent. Tachigali’s once-in-a-lifetime offspring germinate right away, in the shadow of giants who have the sun locked up. They’re doomed, unless an old tree falls. The dying mother opens a hole in the canopy, and its rotting trunk enriches the soil for new seedlings. Call it the ultimate parental sacrifice. The common name for Tachigali versicolor is the suicide tree.
Richard Powers (The Overstory)
Kuan Yin looks very traditional. Her hands are folded together. The thick cloth of her costume is folded perfectly," describes Lena. "Just as in the previous session, I’m reminded of the significance of the folds. I’m having an interesting vision that I haven’t thought about in many years. I see a beautiful tree where I used to go when I was a teenager. It stands majestic, atop the rolling hills behind the house where I grew up. Kuan Yin is at the tree looking very luminous. I see the bark of the tree, which looks very real, very three-dimensional. For some reason, Kuan Yin is touching the trunk of the tree. She suddenly seems very small next to me and she wants me to touch the tree. I’m not sure why. There is a tiny bird, with pretty feathers in its nest. It is about the size of a wren. I see the texture of the tree. I think it might be a birch. I’m not sure. ’Why should I touch the tree,’ I ask. She’s telling me that I created the tree, that it is another realm I was able to visit because life was too painful and lonely at home.” “You created the tree. You create your whole world with thoughts,” assures Kuan Yin. “Every time I try to touch the tree, Kuan Yin wants to help me touch it. There’s something different about this conversation. Usually we work on something about the earth. Because we’re revisiting my childhood, I get the impression Kuan Yin’s trying to show me something that maybe I created in my childhood.” “Well, do we all create our reality?” Kuan Yin asks of Lena. “I think she’s going to answer her own question,” comments Lena, from her trance. “Yes, you can create your reality. Once you free yourself from the negative effects of karma. I know it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between free will and karma. Focus upon your free will and your ability to create reality. I’m optimistic and hopeful you can do this.
Hope Bradford (Oracle of Compassion: The Living Word of Kuan Yin)
A full moon, although less splendid than that earlier on,lit everything around. Before I reached the point where I would have to leave the road and set off across country, the narrow path I was following seemed suddenly to end and disappear behind a large hedge, and there before me, as if blocking my way, stood a single, tall tree, very dark at first against the transparently clear night sky. Out of nowhere, a breeze got up. It set the tender stems of the grasses shivering, made the green blades of the reeds shudder and sent a ripple across the brown waters of a puddle. Like a wave, it lifted up the spreading branches of the tree and, murmuring, climbed the trunk, and then, suddenly, the leaves turned their undersides to the moon and the whole beech tree (because it was a beech) was covered in white as far as the topmost branch.It was only a moment, no more than that, but the memory of it will last as long as my life lasts.
José Saramago
To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing—I'm sorry, I would rather not go on.
Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
PATER PROFUNDUS. [Far below]   The chasm at my feet, dark, yawning,   Rests on a chasm deeper still,   A thousand streams, their waters joining,   In a cascade terrific fall;   The tree’s own life, its strength from nature,   Its trunk lifts skywards straight and tall—   All, all, show love’s almighty power   That shapes all things, cares for them all.   The storm breaks round me, fiercely howling,   The woods, ravines, all seem to quake, 12240 And yet, swelled by the deluge falling,   The torrent plunges down the rock   To water lovingly the valley;   The lightning burns the overcast   And clears the air, now smelling freshly,   Of all its foulness, dankness, mist—   All love proclaim! the creating power   By which the whole world is embraced.   Oh kindle, too, in me your fire,   Whose thoughts, disordered, cold, depressed, 12250 Inside the cage of dull sense languish,   Tormented, helpless, hard beset!   Dear God, relieve my spirit’s anguish,   My needy heart illuminate!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Faust: A Tragedy, Parts One and Two)
It was good to emerge from this silent semi-darkness into a bright glade. Suddenly everything was different: the earth was warm; the air was in movement; you could smell the junipers in the sun; there were large, wilting bluebells which looked as though they had been cast from mauve-coloured metal, and wild carnations on sticky, resinous stems. You felt suddenly carefree; the glade was like one happy day in a life of poverty. The lemon-coloured butterflies, the polished, blue-black beetles, the ants, the grass-snake rustling through the grass, seemed to be joining together in a common task. Birch-twigs, sprinkled with fine leaves, brushed against his face; a grasshopper jumped up and landed on him as though he were a tree-trunk; it clung to his belt, calmly tensing its green haunches as it sat there with its round, leathery eyes and sheep-like face. The last flowers of the wild strawberries. The heat of the sun on his metal buttons and belt-clasp . . . No U-88 or night-flying Heinkel could ever have flown over this glade.
Vasily Grossman (Life and Fate (Stalingrad, #2))
Of course, expression comes like the annual growth rings in a tree trunk, and perhaps it would be quite impossible to laugh with no preparation at all. Depending on the life one has led, a tendency to repeat certain expressions causes them to become fixed by sags and wrinkles. A smiling expression becomes naturally engraved in a face that is often smiling. Chronic anger engraves itself on the face, too. But on my mask, which was like the face of a new-born infant, there was not the crease of a single growth-ring as yet.
Kōbō Abe (The Face of Another)
The Metal Element represents people who respect, treasure, and conserve precious items, like rare metals, gems, or jars of jam. Let’s calm ourselves down from the frenzy of summer’s exuberance and the sharing of our bountiful harvest. Oh my! This is a time in the seasons of falling back to earth, when all the plants go dormant or die, which brings the cycle back to the essence of things, like when you see the trees without leaves... just the trunk and bare branches. Even the things you’re most attached to must leave in the end. In some traditions the Metal Element is sometimes called the Air Element (also associated with Autumn) because Metal people are like a leaf falling through the Autumn air. The leaf will never be attached to its mother tree again. It must fly free and embrace the free-fall of letting go. What will the letting go bring? It may bring melancholy or longing for the past, and Metal accepts this. But it will also bring new life again in the Spring. As long as you don’t cling too tightly or too long, you can relax into the ebb and flow of death and rebirth.
Leta Herman (Connecting Your Circle: How the Five Elements Can Help You Be a More Authentic You)
RYLAN!" I feel Ivy's palm on my chest and, with a powerful shove, she pushes me back, away from fire, danger, and death. In that moment after the tree plunges, I see Ivy for a single second as I fall. In those emerald eyes is a look of complete calm, undying gratitude, and powerful, protective love. The tree crashes down, the sound echoing in my head. For an eternal moment, I sit there on my butt, staring at the spot where Ivy was standing. I'm numb, only registering the slightest changes; the wind dying down, the rain lessening. What just happened? Desperately, I look side to side, praying that Ivy jumped to the side and what I saw was just an illusion made up by my panicked mind. But Ivy's nowhere. And there's an arm sticking out from under the trunk. "IVY!" I sprint to the fallen tree. The smoldering wood stings my hand when I grab the trunk, but I grit my teeth and bear it. Pulling with all my might, I throw the remains of the tree aside. Ivy's lying there, her eyes closed and her lower half on fire. "No..." I fall to my knees and yank off my sweatshirt to try and smother the flames, but they burn strong, and soon the fabric's on fire. I toss it away, not knowing where it lands as I'm unable to tear my eyes off the most gut-wrenching sight of my life. My hands go to my head and my shouting grows even louder. "No, no, no!" This can't be happening. She can't be—
Colleen Boyd (Swamp Angel)
I saw a pair of great tits some days ago. (Massingham Major, you are a dirty-minded boy, and if you snigger again, you will do five hundred lines.) The squeaking-wheel song of Parus major is always gladsome, a precursor to interesting scenes at the bird table. On this occasion, however, what hearing and seeing the two greenery-yallery Paridæ first called up in me was a memory from last year’s early Springtide: an ærial near-collision. A very young squirrel – native red, I am rejoiced to say – was leaping from one tree trunk to another, adjacent, just as a great tit was exploding outwards in flight from the second tree. You never saw a more indignant bird or a more startled squirrel in your life.
G.M.W. Wemyss
The Law of the Jungle NOW this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die. As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back — For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip; drink deeply, but never too deep; And remember the night is for hunting, and forget not the day is for sleep. The Jackal may follow the Tiger, but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown, Remember the Wolf is a Hunter — go forth and get food of thine own. Keep peace withe Lords of the Jungle — the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear. And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the Boar in his lair. When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail, Lie down till the leaders have spoken — it may be fair words shall prevail. When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack, ye must fight him alone and afar, Lest others take part in the quarrel, and the Pack be diminished by war. The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, and where he has made him his home, Not even the Head Wolf may enter, not even the Council may come. The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, but where he has digged it too plain, The Council shall send him a message, and so he shall change it again. If ye kill before midnight, be silent, and wake not the woods with your bay, Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop, and your brothers go empty away. Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can; But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man! If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride; Pack-Right is the right of the meanest; so leave him the head and the hide. The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack. Ye must eat where it lies; And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair, or he dies. The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf. He may do what he will; But, till he has given permission, the Pack may not eat of that Kill. Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling. From all of his Pack he may claim Full-gorge when the killer has eaten; and none may refuse him the same. Lair-Right is the right of the Mother. From all of her year she may claim One haunch of each kill for her litter, and none may deny her the same. Cave-Right is the right of the Father — to hunt by himself for his own: He is freed of all calls to the Pack; he is judged by the Council alone. Because of his age and his cunning, because of his gripe and his paw, In all that the Law leaveth open, the word of your Head Wolf is Law. Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they; But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is — Obey!
Rudyard Kipling
We are misidentified—because we ourselves keep growing, keep changing,127 we shed our old bark, we shed our skins every spring, we keep becoming younger, fuller of future,128 taller, stronger, we push our roots ever more powerfully into the depths—into evil—while at the same time we embrace the heavens ever more lovingly, more broadly, imbibing their light ever more thirstily with all our twigs and leaves. Like trees we grow—this is hard to understand, as is all of life—not in one place only but everywhere, not in one direction but equally upward and outward and inward and downward; our energy is at work simultaneously in the trunk, branches, and roots; we are no longer free to do only one particular thing, to be only one particular thing.
Friedrich Nietzsche (The Gay Science with a Prelude in Rhymes & an Appendix of Songs)
Not that long ago I wrote in a poem that 'life is so filled with meaning, there is no reason to try to reduce it'. That is how I feel and have felt like for years. Some sense of meaninglessness can come from an attack from others, at times subconscious, slowly but surely eroding one's self-respect and therefore sense of self, on all the meanings, infinite as they are, that are already right there. You can even be “raised” to do this self-destructive work yourself. The so called absurdity of life is a construction that creates a template for meaninglessness in itself. Humans revolting in this way against self-made systems. Perhaps to remove some responsibility of being human, because it is, wrongly, seen as a burden. What is truly a burden is to feel as if nothing in life is important. It is also the easiest thing to do. If you don't find meaning in for instance seeing a black squirrel running up the trunk of a tree, you probably won't find any meaning in travelling to the end of the world. It is a kind of explanatory greed this “search for meaning” that can literally destroy a world, and it is the equivalent of replacing the deepest of life’s mysteries with a nice looking garage. To numb before being looked at and experienced as a kind of totally lost "translation" is how the written language can be used at its worst. Meaning is already everywhere, expressing, unfolding itself, living and dying, changing and breathing. The noise distracting from that is what is meaningless but luckily, happily, that is just a construct.
Rune Kjær Rasmussen
It was one thing to know with his mind that Human would not really die. It was another thing to believe it. Ender did not take the knives at first. Instead he reached past the blades and took Human by the wrists. “To you it doesn’t feel like death. But to me—I only saw you for the first time yesterday, and tonight I know you are my brother as surely as if Rooter were my father, too. And yet when the sun rises in the morning, I’ll never be able to talk to you again. It feels like death to me, Human, how ever it feels to you.” “Come and sit in my shade,” said Human, “and see the sunlight through my leaves, and rest your back against my trunk. And do this, also. Add another story to the Hive Queen and the Hegemon. Call it the Life of Human. Tell all the humans how I was conceived on the bark of my father’s tree, and born in darkness, eating my mother’s flesh. Tell them how I left the life of darkness behind and came into the half-light of my second life, to learn language from the wives and then come forth to learn all the miracles that Libo and Miro and Ouanda came to teach. Tell them how on the last day of my second life, my true brother came from above the sky, and together we made this covenant so that humans and piggies would be one tribe, not a human tribe or a piggy tribe, but a tribe of ramen. And then my friend gave me passage to the third life, to the full light, so that I could rise into the sky and give life to ten thousand children before I die.” “I’ll tell your story,” said Ender. “Then I will truly live forever.
Orson Scott Card (Speaker for the Dead (Ender's Saga, #2))
that he had begun to long for clearings, fields, or even a mountain, instead of the endless tree trunks and meager underbrush. His flights with Saphira provided no respite as they only revealed hills of prickly green that rolled unbroken into the distance like a verdant sea. Oftentimes, the branches were so thick overhead, it was impossible to tell from what direction the sun rose and set. That, combined with the repetitive scenery, made Eragon hopelessly lost, no matter how many times Arya or Lifaen troubled to show him the points of the compass. If not for the elves, he knew that he could wander in Du Weldenvarden for the rest of his life without ever finding his way free. When it rained, the clouds and the forest canopy plunged them into profound darkness, as if they were entombed deep underground. The falling water would
Christopher Paolini (Eldest (Inheritance, #2))
What if he died here, in this forest, alone? What would become of his bones? Would they crumple and fold into the earth, preserved as a riddle for some other species, hacking one day through stone, to solve? He hadn't done enough with his life. He hadn't seen that what he had in common with the world--with the trunks of trees and the marching columns of ants and green shoots corkscrewing up from the mud--was life: the first light that sent every living thing paddling forth into the world every day. He wouldn't die--he couldn't. He was, only now, remembering how to live. Something in him wanted to sing out, wanted to shout: I'm lost completely, lost utterly. The shingling, coarse bark of a tree, raindrops plunking on the leaves, the sound of a toad moaning a love song somewhere nearby: all of it seemed terribly beautiful to him.
Anthony Doerr (The Shell Collector)
In 1976, a doctoral student at the University of Nottingham in England demonstrated that randomizing letters in the middle of words had no effect on the ability of readers to understand sentences. In tihs setncene, for emalxpe, ervey scarbelmd wrod rmenias bcilasaly leibgle. Why? Because we are deeply accustomed to seeing letters arranged in certain patterns. Because the eye is in a rush, and the brain, eager to locate meaning, makes assumptions. This is true of phrases, too. An author writes “crack of dawn” or “sidelong glance” or “crystal clear” and the reader’s eye continues on, at ease with combinations of words it has encountered innumerable times before. But does the reader, or the writer, actually expend the energy to see what is cracking at dawn or what is clear about a crystal? The mind craves ease; it encourages the senses to recognize symbols, to gloss. It makes maps of our kitchen drawers and neighborhood streets; it fashions a sort of algebra out of life. And this is useful, even essential—X is the route to work, Y is the heft and feel of a nickel between your fingers. Without habit, the beauty of the world would overwhelm us. We’d pass out every time we saw—actually saw—a flower. Imagine if we only got to see a cumulonimbus cloud or Cassiopeia or a snowfall once a century: there’d be pandemonium in the streets. People would lie by the thousands in the fields on their backs. We need habit to get through a day, to get to work, to feed our children. But habit is dangerous, too. The act of seeing can quickly become unconscious and automatic. The eye sees something—gray-brown bark, say, fissured into broad, vertical plates—and the brain spits out tree trunk and the eye moves on. But did I really take the time to see the tree? I glimpse hazel hair, high cheekbones, a field of freckles, and I think Shauna. But did I take the time to see my wife? “Habitualization,” a Russian army-commissar-turned-literary-critic named Viktor Shklovsky wrote in 1917, “devours works, clothes, furniture, one’s wife, and the fear of war.” What he argued is that, over time, we stop perceiving familiar things—words, friends, apartments—as they truly are. To eat a banana for the thousandth time is nothing like eating a banana for the first time. To have sex with somebody for the thousandth time is nothing like having sex with that person for the first time. The easier an experience, or the more entrenched, or the more familiar, the fainter our sensation of it becomes. This is true of chocolate and marriages and hometowns and narrative structures. Complexities wane, miracles become unremarkable, and if we’re not careful, pretty soon we’re gazing out at our lives as if through a burlap sack. In the Tom Andrews Studio I open my journal and stare out at the trunk of the umbrella pine and do my best to fight off the atrophy that comes from seeing things too frequently. I try to shape a few sentences around this tiny corner of Rome; I try to force my eye to slow down. A good journal entry—like a good song, or sketch, or photograph—ought to break up the habitual and lift away the film that forms over the eye, the finger, the tongue, the heart. A good journal entry ought be a love letter to the world. Leave home, leave the country, leave the familiar. Only then can routine experience—buying bread, eating vegetables, even saying hello—become new all over again.
Anthony Doerr (Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World)
These trees were dying. My friends told me I should uproot them to spare the rest of the forest. But I could feel too much life in their trunks to pluck them from the ground.' 'How did you save them?' Biana asked. 'I listened. And I realized their voices had been silenced. So I gave them mine. I sang of sunlight and rain and rich soil. And hope. Always hope.' Calla moved to another tree, one that had the widest curve of them all, and lay in the slope of its trunk. 'For a week, I stayed right here. I didn't stop, even to rest my throat. I could barely rasp by the end, but I could feel their strength returning. They'll forever bear the mark of their trials, but they are survivors. Proof that anything can be overcome.' Keefe sat on one of the curved trunks, and Sophie waited for him to make a joke. But he just slid his fingers over the rough bark.
Shannon Messenger (Neverseen (Keeper of the Lost Cities, #4))
All at once, something wonderful happened, although at first, it seemed perfectly ordinary. A female goldfinch suddenly hove into view. She lighted weightlessly on the head of a bankside purple thistle and began emptying the seedcase, sowing the air with down. The lighted frame of my window filled. The down rose and spread in all directions, wafting over the dam’s waterfall and wavering between the tulip trunks and into the meadow. It vaulted towards the orchard in a puff; it hovered over the ripening pawpaw fruit and staggered up the steep faced terrace. It jerked, floated, rolled, veered, swayed. The thistle down faltered down toward the cottage and gusted clear to the woods; it rose and entered the shaggy arms of pecans. At last it strayed like snow, blind and sweet, into the pool of the creek upstream, and into the race of the creek over rocks down. It shuddered onto the tips of growing grasses, where it poised, light, still wracked by errant quivers. I was holding my breath. Is this where we live, I thought, in this place in this moment, with the air so light and wild? The same fixity that collapses stars and drives the mantis to devour her mate eased these creatures together before my eyes: the thick adept bill of the goldfinch, and the feathery coded down. How could anything be amiss? If I myself were lighter and frayed, I could ride these small winds, too, taking my chances, for the pleasure of being so purely played. The thistle is part of Adam’s curse. “Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.” A terrible curse: But does the goldfinch eat thorny sorrow with the thistle or do I? If this furling air is fallen, then the fall was happy indeed. If this creekside garden is sorrow, then I seek martyrdom. I was weightless; my bones were taut skins blown with buoyant gas; it seemed that if I inhaled too deeply, my shoulders and head would waft off. Alleluia.
Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)
The sap mounts in the stems, the buds burst with faint sound, and the darkness is full of the noises of growth. There is night in the room, and the moon. There is life in the room. It creaks in the furniture, the table cracks and the wardrobe also. Many years ago some one felled these and split them, planed them and worked them into things of utility, into chairs and beds - but each springtime, in the darkness of the sap, it stirs and reverberates in them again; they waken, they stretch themselves, they are mere objects of use no longer, no longer chairs for a purpose; once again they have part in a the streaming and flowing outside. The boards under my feet creak and move of themselves, the wood of the window still cracks under my hands, and in front of the door even the splintered, decaying trunk of a lime tree by the roadside is thrusting out fat brown buds. In a few weeks it too will have little silken green leaves, as surely s the wide-spreading branches of the plane tree overshadowing it.
Erich Maria Remarque (The Road Back)
There is something memorable in the experience to be had by going into a fair ground that stands at the edge of a Middle Western town on a night after the annual fair has been held. The sensation is one never to be forgotten. On all sides are ghosts, not of the dead, but of living people. Here, during the day just passed, have come the people from hundreds of little frame houses have gathered within these board walls. Young girls have laughed and men with beards have talked of the affairs of their lives. The place has been filled to overflowing with life. It has itched and squirmed with life and now it is night and the life has all gone away. The silence is almost terrifying. One conceals oneself standing silently beside the trunk of a tree and what there is of a reflective tendency in his nature is intensified. One shudders at the thought of the meaninglessness of life while at the same instant, and if the people of the town are his people, one loves life so intensely that tears come into the eyes.
Sherwood Anderson (Winesburg, Ohio)
My neck was slender and long and I could bend it nearly all the way about to take in my body: also slender, also shining. I was a dragon of gold, as if Jesse had touched me and transmuted me but not taken my life. I was sinuous and covered in lustrous golden scales, all the way almost to the tip of my tail, until they faded into purple. I had a mane, too, mapping a line down my back. It looked like a ruff of silk or cut velvet. I folded my neck around almost double so that I could rub my chin on it. Silken, yes, but also jagged. Combing my chin through it sent quivers of pleasure down my spine. Then I saw my wings. They were folded against my back, metallic. Without knowing how I did it, I opened them, using muscles I didn't even have as a person. ... I slashed my tail through the rain and realized that it was barbed when it hit an oak tree and I got stuck. No problem. I pulled it out and danced around, delighted at the fresh, gaping hole in the trunk. ... If the shark-hunters or lance-bearers came for me, I'd chew them to chum.
Shana Abe (The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark, #1))
Ancestors To tell the truth, we should not exist. We, not any collective plural, just you and me. Let us use our imaginations to visualize for a moment the circumstances and conditions of the life of our parents, then our grandparents, then great-grandparents, thus further and further back. Even if among them all there happened to be wealthy individuals or men of privilege, the stench and filth in which they lived, as that then was the rule, would have astonished us who use showers and toilets. What was even more certain was among them the presence of starvelings, for whom a piece of dry bread in pre-harvest time meant happiness. Our ancestors died like flies from epidemics, from starvation, from wars, though children swarmed, for every twelve of them only one or two survived. And what strange tribes, what ugly snouts behinds you and me, what bloody rites in honor of gods carved in the trunk of a linden tree! Back to those who are stalking through the undergrowth of a murky primeval forest with chipped stones for their only weapons, in order to split the skulls of their enemies. It would seem as if we had only parents and that's all, but those other pre-pre-predecessors exist, and with them their afflictions, manias, mental illnesses, syphilis, tuberculosis, and whatnot, and how do you know they do not continue on in you? And what was the probability that among the children of your great-great-grandparents the one survived who would beget your ancestor? And what the probability that this would repeat itself in the next generation? Altogether, a very slim chance that we would be born in these skins, as these, not other, individuals, in whom the genes met those of the devil knows what whores and oafs. The very fact that our species survived and even multiplied beyond measure is astonishing, for it had much against it, and the primeval forest full of animals stronger than humans may serve till now as a metaphor for man's precarious situation - let us add viruses, bacteria, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, but also his own works, atomic weapons and the pollution of nature. Our species should have disappeared a long time ago, and it is still alive, incredibly resistant. That you and I happen to be part of it should be enough to give us pause for meditation.
Czesław Miłosz (Road-side Dog)
Unchopping a Tree. Start with the leaves, the small twigs, and the nests that have been shaken, ripped, or broken off by the fall; these must be gathered and attached once again to their respective places. It is not arduous work, unless major limbs have been smashed or mutilated. If the fall was carefully and correctly planned, the chances of anything of the kind happening will have been reduced. Again, much depends upon the size, age, shape, and species of the tree. Still, you will be lucky if you can get through this stages without having to use machinery. Even in the best of circumstances it is a labor that will make you wish often that you had won the favor of the universe of ants, the empire of mice, or at least a local tribe of squirrels, and could enlist their labors and their talents. But no, they leave you to it. They have learned, with time. This is men's work. It goes without saying that if the tree was hollow in whole or in part, and contained old nests of bird or mammal or insect, or hoards of nuts or such structures as wasps or bees build for their survival, the contents will have to repaired where necessary, and reassembled, insofar as possible, in their original order, including the shells of nuts already opened. With spider's webs you must simply do the best you can. We do not have the spider's weaving equipment, nor any substitute for the leaf's living bond with its point of attachment and nourishment. It is even harder to simulate the latter when the leaves have once become dry — as they are bound to do, for this is not the labor of a moment. Also it hardly needs saying that this the time fro repairing any neighboring trees or bushes or other growth that might have been damaged by the fall. The same rules apply. Where neighboring trees were of the same species it is difficult not to waste time conveying a detached leaf back to the wrong tree. Practice, practice. Put your hope in that. Now the tackle must be put into place, or the scaffolding, depending on the surroundings and the dimension of the tree. It is ticklish work. Almost always it involves, in itself, further damage to the area, which will have to be corrected later. But, as you've heard, it can't be helped. And care now is likely to save you considerable trouble later. Be careful to grind nothing into the ground. At last the time comes for the erecting of the trunk. By now it will scarcely be necessary to remind you of the delicacy of this huge skeleton. Every motion of the tackle, every slightly upward heave of the trunk, the branches, their elaborately reassembled panoply of leaves (now dead) will draw from you an involuntary gasp. You will watch for a lead or a twig to be snapped off yet again. You will listen for the nuts to shift in the hollow limb and you will hear whether they are indeed falling into place or are spilling in disorder — in which case, or in the event of anything else of the kind — operations will have to cease, of course, while you correct the matter. The raising itself is no small enterprise, from the moment when the chains tighten around the old bandages until the boles hands vertical above the stump, splinter above splinter. How the final straightening of the splinters themselves can take place (the preliminary work is best done while the wood is still green and soft, but at times when the splinters are not badly twisted most of the straightening is left until now, when the torn ends are face to face with each other). When the splinters are perfectly complementary the appropriate fixative is applied. Again we have no duplicate of the original substance. Ours is extremely strong, but it is rigid. It is limited to surfaces, and there is no play in it. However the core is not the part of the trunk that conducted life from the roots up to the branches and back again. It was relatively inert. The fixative for this part is not the same as the one for the outer layers and the bark, and if either of these is involved
W.S. Merwin
She finds herself, by some miraculous feat, no longer standing in the old nursery but returned to the clearing in the woods. It is the 'green cathedral', the place she first kissed Jack all those weeks ago. The place where they laid out the stunned sparrowhawk, then watched it spring miraculously back to life. All around, the smooth, grey trunks of ancient beech trees rise up from the walls of the room to tower over her, spreading their branches across the ceiling in a fan of tangled branches and leaves, paint and gold leaf cleverly combined to create the shimmering effect of a leafy canopy at its most dense and opulent. And yet it is not the clearing, not in any real or grounded sense, because instead of leaves, the trees taper up to a canopy of extraordinary feathers shimmering and spreading out like a peacock's tail across the ceiling, a hundred green, gold and sapphire eyes gazing down upon her. Jack's startling embellishments twist an otherwise literal interpretation of their woodland glade into a fantastical, dreamlike version of itself. Their green cathedral, more spectacular and beautiful than she could have ever imagined. She moves closer to one of the trees and stretches out a hand, feeling instead of rough bark the smooth, cool surface of a wall. She can't help but smile. The trompe-l'oeil effect is dazzling and disorienting in equal measure. Even the window shutters and cornicing have been painted to maintain the illusion of the trees, while high above her head the glass dome set into the roof spills light as if it were the sun itself, pouring through the canopy of eyes. The only other light falls from the glass windowpanes above the window seat, still flanked by the old green velvet curtains, which somehow appear to blend seamlessly with the painted scene. The whole effect is eerie and unsettling. Lillian feels unbalanced, no longer sure what is real and what is not. It is like that book she read to Albie once- the one where the boy walks through the wardrobe into another world. That's what it feels like, she realizes: as if she has stepped into another realm, a place both fantastical and otherworldly. It's not just the peacock-feather eyes that are staring at her. Her gaze finds other details: a shy muntjac deer peering out from the undergrowth, a squirrel, sitting high up in a tree holding a green nut between its paws, small birds flitting here and there. The tiniest details have been captured by Jack's brush: a silver spider's web, a creeping ladybird, a puffy white toadstool. The only thing missing is the sound of the leaf canopy rustling and the soft scuttle of insects moving across the forest floor.
Hannah Richell (The Peacock Summer)
them—or something like it. They even got the Doctor some tobacco one day, when he had finished what he had brought with him and wanted to smoke. At night they slept in tents made of palm leaves, on thick, soft beds of dried grass. And after a while they got used to walking such a lot and did not get so tired and enjoyed the life of travel very much. But they were always glad when the night came and they stopped for their resting time. Then the Doctor used to make a little fire of sticks; and after they had had their supper, they would sit round it in a ring, listening to Polynesia singing songs about the sea, or to Chee-Chee telling stories of the jungle. And many of the tales that Chee-Chee told were very interesting. Because although the monkeys had no history books of their own before Doctor Dolittle came to write them for them, they remember everything that happens by telling stories to their children. And Chee-Chee spoke of many things his grandmother had told him—tales of long, long, long ago, before Noah and the Flood—of the days when men dressed in bearskins and lived in holes in the rock and ate their mutton raw because they did not know what cooking was, never having seen a fire. And he told them of the great mammoths, and lizards as long as a train, that wandered over the mountains in those times, nibbling from the treetops. And often they got so interested listening that when he had finished they found their fire had gone right out, and they had to scurry around to get more sticks and build a new one. Now, when the King’s army had gone back and told the King that they couldn’t find the Doctor, the King sent them out again and told them they must stay in the jungle till they caught him. So all this time, while the Doctor and his animals were going along toward the Land of the Monkeys, thinking themselves quite safe, they were still being followed by the King’s men. If Chee-Chee had known this, he would most likely have hidden them again. But he didn’t know it. One day Chee-Chee climbed up a high rock and looked out over the treetops. And when he came down he said they were now quite close to the Land of the Monkeys and would soon be there. And that same evening, sure enough, they saw Chee-Chee’s cousin and a lot of other monkeys, who had not yet gotten sick, sitting in the trees by the edge of a swamp, looking and waiting for them. And when they saw the famous doctor really come, these monkeys made a tremendous noise, cheering and waving leaves and swinging out of the branches to greet him. They wanted to carry his bag and his trunk and everything he had. And one of the bigger ones even carried Gub-Gub, who had gotten
Hugh Lofting (The Story of Doctor Dolittle (Doctor Dolittle Series))
The great danger of lying is not that lies are untruths, and thus unreal, but that they become real in other people's minds. They escape the liar's grip like seeds let loose in the wind, sprouting a life of their own in the least expected places, until one day the liar finds himself contemplating a lonely but nonetheless healthy tree, grown off the side of a barren cliff. It has the capacity to sadden him as much as it does to amaze. How could that tree have got there? How does it manage to live? It is extraordinarily beautiful in its loneliness, built on a barren untruth, yet green and very much alive. Many years have passed since I sowed the lies, and thus lives, of which I am speaking. Yet more than ever, I shall have to sort the branches out carefully, determine which ones stemmed from truth, which from falsehood. Will it be possible to saw off the misleading branches without mutilating the tree beyond hope? Perhaps I should rather uproot the tree, replant it in flat, fertile soil. But the risk is great. My tree has adapted in a hundred and one ways to its untruth, learned to bend with the wind, live with little water. It leans so far it is horizontal, a green enigma halfway up and perpendicular to a tall, lifeless cliff. Yet it is not lying on the ground, its leaves rotting in dew as it would if I replanted it. Curved trunks cannot stand up, any more than I can straighten my posture to return to my twenty-year-old self. A milder environment, after so long a harsh one, would surely prove fatal. I have found the solution. If I simply tell the truth, the cliff will erode chip by chip, stone by stone. And the destiny of my tree? I hold my fist to the sky and let loose my prayers. Wherever they go, I hope my tree will land there.
Christine Leunens (Caging Skies)
Tinker Bell, meanwhile, was drifting with purpose up to the highest leafy branches of the jungle. Her light glowed warmly off the leaves below, the droplets seeping off their thick veins, the sweet sap running down the trunks of the trees. It made the whole clearing look... Well, like it was touched by fairies, Wendy thought with a smile. All her life she had looked for fairies in more mundane places, experiencing a rush of hope and warmth whenever a scene even palely imitated the one before here now. Candles at Christmas, fireflies in the park, flickering lamps in teahouses. The sparkling leaded glass windows of a sweets shop on winter afternoons when dusk came at four. A febrile, glowing crisscross of threads on a rotten log her cousin had once shown her out in the country: fox fire, magical mushrooms. And here it was, for real! Tinker Bell was performing what appeared to be a slow and majestic dance. First, she moved to specific points in the air around her, perhaps north, south, east, and west, twirling a little at each stop. Then she flew back to the center and made a strange bowing motion, keeping her tiny feet daintily together and putting her arms out gracefully like a swan. As she completed each movement, fairy dust fell from her wings in glittering, languorous trails, hanging in the air just long enough to form shapes. She started the dance over again, faster this time. And again even faster. Her trail of sparkles almost resolved into a picture, crisscrossed lines constantly flowing slowly down like drips of luminous paint. Wendy felt a bit like John, overwhelmed with a desire to try to reduce and explain and thereby translate the magic. But she also felt a lot like Michael, with an almost overwhelming urge to break free from her hiding place and see it up close, to feel the sparkles on her nose, to run a hand through the sigils not for the purpose of destruction but form a hapless, joyful desire to be part of it all.
Liz Braswell (Straight On Till Morning)
Michael took me to Paris for the first time back in 1995. I was thirty-six years old and we’d been seeing each other for five months. He was invited to give a talk on childhood leukemia to a conference in Toulouse, and asked if I’d like to go along. When I regained consciousness I said, yes, yes, yes please! We flew out of Montréal in a snowstorm, almost missing the flight. Michael was, to be honest, a little vague on details, like departure times of planes, trains, buses. In fact, almost all appointments. This was the trip where I realized we each had strengths. Mine seemed to be actually getting us to places. His was making it fun once there. On our first night in Paris we went to a wonderful restaurant, then for a walk. At some stage he said, “I’d like to show you something. Look at this.” He was pointing to the trunk of a tree. Now, I’d actually seen trees before, but I thought there must be something extraordinary about this one. “Get up close,” he said. “Look at where I’m pointing.” It was dark, so my nose was practically touching his finger, lucky man. Then, slowly, slowly, his finger began moving, scraping along the bark. I was cross-eyed, following it. And then it left the tree trunk. And pointed into the air. I followed it. And there was the Eiffel Tower. Lit up in the night sky. As long as I live, I will never forget that moment. Seeing the Eiffel Tower with Michael. And the dear man, knowing the magic of it for a woman who never thought she’d see Paris, made it even more magical by making it a surprise. C. S. Lewis wrote that we can create situations in which we are happy, but we cannot create joy. It just happens. That moment I was surprised by complete and utter joy. A little more than a year earlier I knew that the best of life was behind me. I could not have been more wrong. In that year I’d gotten sober, met and fell in love with Michael, and was now in Paris. We just don’t know. The key is to keep going. Joy might be just around the corner
Louise Penny (All the Devils Are Here (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #16))
Isn't there something in Genesis about not looking back? A stupid glance over my shoulder showed her expression relaxing, glad I wasn't taking anything that couldn't be replaced and glad I didn't destroy anything that couldn't be repaired. "Do you care for me, Georgia?" I asked her. "Tell me you don't and I'm out of your life forever." She stood in the driveway with her arms wrapped around herself like she was freezing. "Andre is on his way." "I didn't ask you about no Andre." "He'll be here in a minute." My head hurt, but I pressed her. "It's a yes-or-no question." "Can we talk when Andre gets back? We can-" "Stop talking about him. I want to know if you love me." "Andre…" She said his name one time too many. For what happened next, she would have to take some of the blame. I asked her a simple question and she refused to give me a simple answer. I turned from her and made a sharp left turn, pounding across the yard, feeling the dry grass crunch under my shoes. Six long strides put me at the base of the massive tree. I touched the rough bark, an instant of reflection, to give Old Hickey the benefit of the doubt. But in reality, a hickory tree was a useless hunk of wood. Tall, and that's all. To break the shell of a hickory nut, you needed a hammer and an act of Congress, and even then you needed a screwdriver to get at the meat, which was about as tasty as a clod of limestone. Nobody would ever mourn a hickory tree except Celestial, and maybe Andre. When I was a boy, so little I couldn't manage much more than a George Washington hatcher, Big Roy taught me how to take down a tree. Bend your knees, swing hard and low, follow up with a straight chop. Celestial was crying like the baby we never had, yelping and mewing with every swing. Believe me when I say that I didn't slow my pace, even though my shoulders burned and my arms strained and quivered. With every blow, wedges of fresh wood flew from the wounded trunk peppering my face with hot bites. "Speak up, Georgia," I shouted, hacking at the thick grey bark, experiencing pleasure and power with each stroke. "I asked you if you loved me.
Tayari Jones (An American Marriage)
YOU FIRST When entering into relationships, we have a tendency to bend. We bend closer to one another, because regardless of what type of relationship it might be — romantic, business, friendship — there’s a reason you’re bringing that other person into your life, and that means the load is easier to carry if you carry it together, both bending toward the center. I picture people in relationships as two trees, leaning toward one another. Over time, as the relationship solidifies, you both become more comfortable bending, and as such bend farther, eventually resting trunk to trunk. You support each other and are stronger because of the shared strength of your root system and entwined branches. Double-tree power! But there’s a flaw in this mode of operation. Once you’ve spent some time leaning on someone else, if they disappear — because of a breakup, a business upset, a death, a move, an argument — you’re all that’s left, and far weaker than when you started. You’re a tree leaning sideways; the second foundation that once supported you is…gone. This is a big part of why the ending of particularly strong relationships can be so disruptive. When your support system presupposes two trunks — two people bearing the load, and divvying up the responsibilities; coping with the strong winds and hailstorms of life — it can be shocking and uncomfortable and incredibly difficult to function as an individual again; to be just a solitary tree, alone in the world, dealing with it all on your own. A lone tree needn’t be lonely, though. It’s most ideal, in fact, to grow tall and strong, straight up, with many branches. The strength of your trunk — your character, your professional life, your health, your sense of self — will help you cope with anything the world can throw at you, while your branches — your myriad interests, relationships, and experiences — will allow you to reach out to other trees who are likewise growing up toward the sky, rather than leaning and becoming co-dependent. Relationships of this sort, between two equally strong, independent people, tend to outlast even the most intertwined co-dependencies. Why? Because neither person worries that their world will collapse if the other disappears. It’s a relationship based on the connections between two people, not co-dependence. Being a strong individual first alleviates a great deal of jealousy, suspicion, and our innate desire to capture or cage someone else for our own benefit. Rather than worrying that our lives will end if that other person disappears, we know that they’re in our lives because they want to be; their lives won’t end if we’re not there, either. Two trees growing tall and strong, their branches intertwined, is a far sturdier image than two trees bent and twisted, tying themselves into uncomfortable knots to wrap around one another, desperately trying to prevent the other from leaving. You can choose which type of tree to be, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with either model; we all have different wants, needs, and priorities. But if you’re aiming for sturdier, more resilient relationships, it’s a safe bet that you’ll have better options and less drama if you focus on yourself and your own growth, first. Then reach out and connect with others who are doing the same.
Colin Wright (Considerations)