They just stand there. No goals, no fears, no deficiencies. Just perfect in the moment, every moment. When I need a reminder to simply be, I look at a tree.
A bit east of us on Bostwick Road (Home Road), a very tall deciduous tree welcomes me every time I pass by. The diameter of its trunk must be five feet. Part of me wants to know the type of tree it is, but alas, naming things is not one of my strong suits. And actually, it’s not even an alas. My friend big guy opens me up when I linger a moment. His or her name could be Bob or Carol or Ted or Alice … no matter. He just is. The fact that he looms so high above me is fine. There’s no sense of better or worse, bigger or smaller.
Another friend hangs out on the east side of Highway Road as I venture north to London. On a slight curve, his leaves and branches spread wide, falling at the edges down towards the earth. Not so lofty, this fellow. But just about perfectly symmetrical. The balance draws me in, and in my moments of awareness, I say “Hello, lovely tree.” He or she smiles back.
In 1969, 1974, 1975 and 1976, another tree helped me keep going. I was working those summers in the superheated laundry building of the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta. The sheet mangle was just about mangling me, with sweat usually pouring off my brow. When the dizziness and exhaustion came, I looked out one of the windows to gaze upon a straggly pine, gnarled by the wind. It was slightly uphill to that tree, and I knew that just past it, the ground sloped down to a view of Waterton Lake and the surrounding mountains – a vista for the gods. I knew that something marvelous was just beyond my physical sight, and the laundry tree was my conduit for touching it.
Listen to the trees, Bruce. Listen.