TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART

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The Trees of Late Fall & the Promise of Winter


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Bontecou Lake Swamp, Millbrook, New York

Every year what budded in autumn blossoms full blown in the weeks before official winter– my love affair with 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. Now the trees are stripped down to their souls and their souls sing a siren song to the universe.

The tops of trees lift my spirit; brushlike they paint the sky 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. Some treetops in their bare state are shaped like a fancy coiffure; others look like wrought iron filigree. On distant mountains, against the snowy ground, some look like stubble on an old man’s unshaven face.

It is the cold, colorful pre-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 in the sensuous lines of a Brancusi sculpture. Buxom tree trunks stand strong surrounded by their colorful, dead blossoms amid the ground cover and their burgeoning berries, the offspring of 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 themselves are paragons of diversity. One look out of a car window while driving on the Taconic and one can see squat pines alongside 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 enveloped in glassine ice. While 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 holding them 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 below.

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Hammond Road, Millbrook, NY

Electrified, Giggling Flowers, Talking Trees, and Thanksgiving


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Mom told me one day why Dad’s African Violet plants in his office flourished.  “He talks to them,” she said.  “He teases them and tells them jokes.”  That was very Dad.  Once, on a trip to Gloucester, we sat eating breakfast and were admiring a rowboat on the front lawn, planted full to the brim with pansies.  Suddenly it began to rain.  Big drops fell on the pansies and my father insisted he could hear the pansies giggling.  It was then, I think, I thought about the interesting connection my father had with flowers.  Mr. Macho Dad had a soft spot for the flowering plants, well, more than a soft spot, a communication.
 
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He wasn’t the only one who spoke of these things.  I spent much time in grammar school at the house of my Polish friend whose mother was an artist.  She told us about trees talking and, she used to say, talking to them made her feel happy.  At the time I did not think much of it.  But now, many years later, on walks, occasionally a tree will say something.  Utter a benevolent greeting.  And now, I find myself so in love with trees, I shoot portraits of them constantly, singly or in groups, with their “friends and relations.” 

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Any doubts I had about trees communicating were put to rest when I read in J.Gordon Douglas’s column in the now defunct Dutchess CountyRegister Herald, about how trees in an area communicate with one another in planning their reproduction strategies for the season or warning each other chemically about caterpillar infestations.  Scientists are not sure how.  Maybe through the roots.

Not only do plants have feelings, they can also generate energy.  See the website by artist, Caleb Charland.  He used apple trees to generate light.  Perhaps one day we will use plants for alternative energy– just another amazing aspect to nature’s ways:

http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680497/turning-apples-into-alternative-energy-and-surreal-photographs?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews#comments

Of course, hearing them “talk” is a little different.  However, Valerie Wormwood, one of the world’s leading aromatherapists, in her book entitled The Fragrant Heavens, tells us not only does the earth hum but it emits a low frequency radio signal known as the ‘Shumann resonance” and this signal can be detected coming off trees. She relays that researchers in America wanted to know if this signal could be altered by human thoughts or feelings.  They had a group of people circle a tree and say Native American prayers, sending the tree love.  They attached electrodes like those measuring human brain waves to the tree. A response not only registered but the sensors went off the scale.  Clearly some form of communication went on, confirming my Polish friend’s mother’s belief and many others as well. When trees are cut down we are not only destroying the tree we are cutting down and giving it a terminal sentence as firewood or worse, but we are also upsetting all the trees around the “victim.”  The surrounding trees must witness their friend and neighbor being chopped down.  Do they feel outrage, fear, sadness?

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We do know now that they feel something.  Wormwood tell us that in 1966 Cleve Backster, a lie detector expert in New York, had a group of students go into a room with 2 plants next to each other on a table.  One of the 6 students was chosen to “murder” one of the plants, hacking it to bits and then they all left the room.  After the attack Backster attached the lie detector to the “survivor” and had the students enter the room again one by one.  The sensors were quiet as the “innocent” students entered but when the “attacker” entered they started jumping “wildly.”  I think of this as I weed the gardens in the summer. Sometimes we are forced to cut down a tree and we must pick vegetables to eat.  And we have to weed the gardens.  But perhaps it is in how we do it.  If we can express gratitude and appreciation and maybe an apology.  Or if we could ask permission perhaps, as the Native Americans do.  When they take from the earth they give an offering as well. 

The Native Americans had the real idea for giving thanks, for thanksgiving.  It was not about stuffing oneself with sweet potatoes and gorging on gravy and turkey.  They gave Thanksgiving to Spirit in the earth, in the trees, in the animals, for whatever they took. Flowers “giggle” and trees “talk”.  If only we would be attuned enough to listen.  Sentient beings surround us and we must follow the lead of the Native Americans at Thanksgiving and give thanks for what we take from the earth, and, of course, from the animal kingdom, and give back something in return.  Even if it is only words, but words with heart behind them, words that understand the sacrifice made by sentient beings for us, words that capture the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO THOSE WHO CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING AND HAPPY AUTUMN TO THOSE WHO DON’T!

Autumn in the Quarry in Millbrook, NY


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Autumn Next Door in Millbrook, NY

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Autumn in our Front Yard, Millbrook, NY

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Leaves Falling


 

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Bontecou Lake in Autumn


Millbrook, New York

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