The sanctuary of a tree

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”

Hermann Hesse, German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter
Advertisements

Summer Harvest in The Grove

mangoes

Mango Tree

In my town of Coconut Grove – an eclectic South Florida village and bohemian haven to local writers, artists, architects and musicians – summer harvest is in full swing. Virtually every house in The Grove is surrounded by lush tropical flora and fruit trees. Starfruit, sea grapes, lemons, oranges, avocados, mangoes, lychee, guava, coconuts, figs, and olives. As they  ripen, the pungent smells fill the air.  What abundance! And, how grateful we are that the daily spurts of tropical rain, followed by sunshine and steamy, hot air provide the perfect climate for growth. 

Starfruit

Starfruit (“Carambola”) Tree

In this sustainable environment, not only does nature produce a rich bounty for individual households and all the outdoor creatures that inhabit the yards (birds, cats, possum, squirrels, frogs, lizards and geckos), it also encourages neighborliness. Just the other day, one of my neighbors dropped by with a bag full of mangoes from her tree.  Everyone shares their harvest. It is not uncommon to see baskets of fruit  set outside a front gate, with a sign saying “Please help yourself. Enjoy!”

My sea grape trees cascade over the front yard, providing shade for the sidewalk and part of the street.  Hanging from the branches, the ripe grapes are a welcome treat to anyone strolling by.  Blending (chameleon-like) with the large, green sea grape leaves, the mischievous parrots teeter precariously as they hop from branch to branch – tipsy from indulging in  their very own bacchanalian feast. Their loud and gleeful squawking can be heard from one end of the street to the other. Their joy is infectious.  

Just this morning, I stood smiling as I looked up at the parrots.  My smile turned into a belly laugh when several grape pits pinged my forehead. I’m sure those naughty feathered creatures did it on purpose, but I didn’t mind.  Not at all.  I’m just deeply thankful that my trees are bearing fruit and that they are being savoured by animals and humans alike.

“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.”
William Blake

seagrape

Sea Grape Tree and Parrot (posing for the camera)