Every year what starts as a budding romance in autumn blossoms into a full-blown love affair in winter– my pitter-patter passion for trees. Trees that were drop-dead-gorgeous in their fall colors are now bare, with the exception of evergreens and a few stray deciduous trees that refuse to relinquish their leaves. Stripped down to their souls and the trees sing a siren song to the universe.
The tops of trees lift my spirit; brush-like they paint the sky with the baby pinks and blues of mornings, and the majestic magentas and violets of day’s end. Each tree has its signature shape against the sky, like a fingerprint or a snowflake– similar yet each unique. In their bare state, some treetops are shaped into fancy coiffures– others into wrought iron filigree. On distant mountains, against the snowy ground, still others assume the image of stubble on an old man’s unshaven face.
It is the colorful winter sky showing through, and showing off, the bare branches that woos me. The bare, curvaceous branches are stark, dark lines against the bright of day and the inky sky of night. These resplendent creatures are living lines that explode. Branches tangle like the lines in a Jackson Pollock painting. Others curve with the sensuous lines of a Brancusi sculpture. Buxom tree trunks stand strong surrounded by their dead blossoms and their burgeoning offspring like a Renaissance Madonna. In truth these trees are not like art at all. Rather art imitates them– their beauty provides the timeless inspiration for artists, writers and poets of all ages and styles.
Trees not only inspire, they are paragons of diversity. One look out of a car window while driving on the Taconic and one can see squat pines beside towering majestic firs, birches interspersed with maple and oak. And together the different brown and tan barks interspersed with evergreens create not only a mosaic of contrasting colors, but display an example to inspire humans to live together in peaceful unity.
These beneficent beings carry the heavy, dark grey clouds of winter. When it snows the tree trunks become canvases for the abstract patterns of windblown-snow, while the serpentine branches are outlined in white. In ice storms their branches become chandeliers, each with glassine ice crystals tinkling in the wind. In the melancholy of a winter rain, the branches become oiled skins of snakes weeping to the ground below. And finally, in the night sky, the branches hold the stars in their arms, those with leaves, in their hands, as they nurse the moon.
All trees, no matter what their species, age or height, stand tall in proud humility, their arms reaching up to the Heavens to our Creator in prayer– soft-spoken beings of peace and tranquility towering over us, while we, wee, little creatures race around distractedly in a dither below.