Sunday, July 16, 2017

Summer's lull a-bye, treed

It's unclear what, if anything, it may mean, but a brilliant blue bluebird male has been active all morning around the brush pile near the bluebird house. I think I may need to wander over some day very soon and take a peek into the house.

male bluebird on pine candle
male bluebird on pine candle
Photo by J. Harrington

Several monarch(?) butterflies have been butterflying around the back yard today. If anyone has recommendations on how to tell, while they're in flight, monarchs from viceroys, at a distance, please share. Flashes of orange are inconclusive, but about all that's available some days.

monarch butterfly feeding
monarch butterfly feeding
Photo by J. Harrington

While sitting and watching the birds and butterflies, I briefly thought about the fact that the trees looked like they were just standing there, doing as little as I was. That's if we consider pumping groundwater up to leaves; producing shade and oxygen and perches for birds; growing acorns and providing nesting sites for birds and resting sites for squirrels; capturing carbon; stabilizing soil and producing wood is doing little. (What have I left out?) This reminded me of the zen saying "When nothing is done, nothing is left undone." Would that we all left "nothing" as undone as trees just standing there. Do we too often take trees for granted and assume they're just taking up space that could be put to better use? On my list of books to read over the next few months is The Hidden Life of Trees. I wonder if it will provide insights into whether trees themselves are satisfied with their own lives. I'll let you know when I'm done reading it.

what life is hidden here?
what life is hidden here?
Photo by J. Harrington

Song of the Trees


We are the Trees.  
  Our dark and leafy glade  
Bands the bright earth with softer mysteries.  
Beneath us changed and tamed the seasons run:  
In burning zones, we build against the sun         
  Long centuries of shade.  

We are the Trees,  
  Who grow for man’s desire,  
Heat in our faithful hearts, and fruits that please.  
Dwelling beneath our tents, he lightly gains         
The few sufficiencies his life attains—  
  Shelter, and food, and fire.  

We are the Trees  
  That by great waters stand,  
By rills that murmur to our murmuring bees.         
And where, in tracts all desolate and waste,  
The palm-foot stays, man follows on, to taste  
  Springs in the desert sand.  

We are the Trees  
  Who travel where he goes         20 
Over the vast, inhuman, wandering seas.  
His tutors we, in that adventure brave—  
He launched with us upon the untried wave,  
  And now its mastery knows.  

We are the Trees         25 
  Who bear him company  
In life and death. His happy sylvan ease  
He wins through us; through us, his cities spread  
That like a forest guard his unfenced head  
  ’Gainst storm and bitter sky.         30 

We are the Trees.  
  On us the dying rest  
Their strange, sad eyes, in farewell messages.  
And we, his comrades still, since earth began,  
Wave mournful boughs above the grave of man,          
  And coffin his cold breast.

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Please be kind to each other while you can.