Spanish moss hangs suspended from the limbs of water tupelo contorted like gestures in a dance arrested by time.
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The sun had just risen above the rim that encompasses Merchants Millpond, the first light touching the dying needles of bald cypress with fire, and these water tupelo still standing in shadow like frozen figures in a dance recital or something older still, the dramatization of an archetypal myth of fire and shadow.
Water tupelo can grow old. Not as old as a bald cypress but a thousand years isn’t inconsequential. In that long life experiencing successive days and seasons, years and centuries, I wonder what wisdom they accumulate like expanding growth rings. Anthropomorphism is considered a scientific sin but a much older knowledge believed in the sanctity of trees.
I suspect the greater sin is thinking anything other than ourselves less worthy of respect and kindness.
I heard a story from a man who took up residence high in the canopy of an old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest, living there for months to frustrate a logging company from harvesting the trees. After some weeks he said he grew quiet enough to hear the forest breathe, one long sigh at dawn and dusk each day, an entire forest inhaling and exhaling. Asking whether the story is true misses the point.
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