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Languid Afternoon

Pembroke Creek
Chowan County, NC

A horizontal bald cypress, still alive and flourishing, lies sprawled across Pembroke Creek. Spanish moss hangs from the tree’s limbs and the cypress needles reveal the hidden colors of fall as the tree’s chlorophyll retreats from the coming winter.

I wonder about the consciousness of trees. I wonder if they feel pain or loss, if they fear death.

Certainly, trees have been documented providing the simple sugars necessary for survival to stumps felled hundreds of years earlier, keeping them alive, and individual trees nearing their death have been known to bequeath a substantial amount of the carbon they’ve sequestered, carbon necessary for life, to other threes in their community, so they seem conscious of their own mortality.

If trees are conscious, they must feel pain. Pain is adaptive. It indicates danger. Without it, a conscious being wouldn’t survive. But if a tree feels pain, if it isn’t simply a green machine, it presents us with a moral dilemma we are poorly prepared to answer.

Monica Gagliano, an evolutionary biologist who studies plant cognition, said something that lingers with me. “For me, a plant isn’t an object, it’s always a subject that is interacting with other subjects in the environment.” From object to subject is a profound step.

“The main realization for me wasn’t the fact that plants themselves must be something more than we give them credit for, but what if everything around us is much more than we give it credit for, whether it’s animal, plant, bacteria, whatever…”

$50.65$164.40

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Sound Rivers

Five percent of the profits from all sales on this site are donated to Sound Rivers, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the quality of rivers on the Carolina coastal plain.

Languid Afternoon

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Description

A fallen bald cypress straddles Pembroke Creek, sunlight falling on isolated needles in fall colors, a mirror image reflected in the blackwater creek.

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18"x12" Print, 24"x16" Print, 30"x20" Print, 36"x24" Print

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