Oct 12, 2009 | Sisters, OR
Oct 12, 2009

I have been thinking some more about trees. My head was feeling cloudy today, so I climbed up the mountain overlooking Blue Lake. It was a cold bleak fall day with that pale early winter sunlight that soaks through the sky like a light bulb through a wet dish rag. This one giant pine tree stood in front of me, taller than the mountain. I tried to move my empathy from the inner workings of my computer program to the inner perspective of that pine tree. It must have stood there for so long, growing very slowly, inch by inch, year by year, outlasting real estate transactions, the lifetimes of land owners, and the noises of summer campers at play, surviving brutal winters, hot dry summers, and at least one major forest fire. I wonder what it thinks about. Someday it will die — fire will consume it, lightning will strike it, bugs will eat it, moisture will rot it, or an ax will cut it. When it falls, will it be sad? When it burns, will it cry in agony, like we would, or does it understand its destruction is part of a cycle that brings new growth? Even if it is wise enough to know such a thing, can wisdom ever prevent pain? Is it proud of what it has accomplished? Does it feel jealous of the other trees around it? Does it compete with them? Does it like it when birds pluck its needles for their nests? Does it mind thick snow or thin air? And what about the needles on the end of each bough? Some are very high, right at the tip top of the tree — do they feel superior to the ones below? Do they ever want to change places, go and visit, see what it's like down there? Do they get lonely so high up in the clouds? I guess the tree can be proud to have provided a home for all those needles, shelter for all those birds, food for all those bugs. I have so many questions I want to ask the tree, but the tree is so silent. It just stands there, patient and serene. But it seems to stare back at me just as intensely, for I think it has questions too.