The woods are pensive, dark and deep
coursing like subterranean whispers
for miles; seeking, reaching, grasping
root chasing root, entwined, twisted,
contorted, conflicted, or spread eagle.
Have you noticed: the sun,
remains but a distant memory
and the murmur of the core is what
she seeks, the tree you hold clasped
to your heart, distracted as you are
by crimson temptations of Spring.
Is that the rising affluence of sultry
summer heat, that colours you green
like the leaves, or the tempestuous
Autumn with her hurricane winds which
float you away on sensate empiricisms.
Finally, when in true Frostian fashion,
the Overstory retreats in icy chill
to the bowels of the Earth,
then, in that moment we find her
upside down or maybe right side in,
for the forest lies beneath,
a singular organism …
…pulsing, dreaming, biding time
as she slumbers, knowing well,
that one day the globe
would be engulfed in a root ball
and all the pebbles and the mud
would be but memories in space
like it does in over watered flower
pots licking window ledges,
surviving potted prisons.
What will we say then?
That we knew it all along.
The Overstory, a book by Richard Powers features the story of a fictional botanist, Dr. Patricia Westerford, based on perhaps the real life Ecologist Suzanne W. Simard whose work involved studying how trees communicate with one another using the Mycorrhizal network. It is the story that drew me to the book and perhaps the only story that struck me as poignant.
Trees in temperate regions retreat within themselves in fall towards winter. Trees are also known to reach out to each other and form a supportive network underground. The forest network pulses in a singularly strange fashion, we try to emulate these traits in our primitive human ways, perhaps anthropomorphise the trees sometimes to imagine ourselves being superlatively exemplary in our feelings and emotions. I do not know how else to explain this.
Here’s to trees and hoping that we all aim to be like them ~ complex, complicatedly intuitive, harbouring a sensate and fluid intelligence, adaptable, resilient, beautiful in every way. The understory seems to hold the key to the forest, something about what lies beneath, like in an iceberg.
As we chase incessant production and consumption above ground, let us spare some thought to what really makes our planet habitable, our emotions colourful, the sentience in our being and our lives worth living. I am not sure it would be okay to live outside the world of life giving plants.