Seeing trees

Tree in snow

This is a pic posted by my friend Wendy. Wintry scenes like this are everywhere in Edmonton today. Wendy and the rest of us are contemplating the meaning of April in a city at 53 degrees north latitude.

Wendy is not one of the drippers. But the drippers are with us. I recognize them because I used to dripdripdripdripdrip, too. I understand why they call this weather horrible. The main reason is this: they have never considered what horrible is. And this: they haven't read enough Maya Angelou.

Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards, and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of that plowing that person was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't have it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain. 

Those are wonderful words. There is a beautiful lesson about work and there is wisdom about weather. We humans affect the weather, but we do not control it. We may assume airs by naming the weather, calling it good or bad, nice or normal, wicked or glorious, but that's just puny us doing what human beings do, which is to try to impose order wherever we can. Even on the skies. Angelou says no. Properly, weather gets a bloodless pronoun, not an adjective. Under Angelou's touch, it is simply this weather. Weather is.

But back to that snow on the tree in Wendy's pic. I saw it differently today. If this makes sense, I saw less the snow in the tree as I saw the tree in snow. The network of branches lined with sudden snow brought the tree, its treeness, into sharper relief even as less of it was visible under the snow. Somehow, today's snow concealed and revealed. With the writing of snow, form became easier to grasp.

In the snow today, trees also became easier to see into. To see what they are built for. To see the work they do. This is a stand of spruce on 148 St where we live. The boughs sag but don't break under the weight of the slurpee-like snow, the needles, like the sticks in Ker Plunk, hold the snow crystals and their watery substance in place until conditions warm up and it all drops and is fed back up and into the cylinder of trunk. As life.

148 St spruce

Again, the snow showed the tree, and not just the other way around.

Like the white of an X-ray shows the limb and its needles.

Limb, needles


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