Of trees and greenness

Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.  ~Pedro Calderon de la Barca (17th century Spanish dramatist)

greenwoodlandEvery window frames a scene of green. Those first lovely hints of verdure in April have grown fulsome and lush in May and each moment in the garden brings a sense of deep peace and healing. The weather seesaws between warm sunny days and cool rainy ones, pushing and pulling the garden into breathtaking loveliness.gardentreesWP

Delicate flowers in tones of white and blush pink sing against the green resonance of their leaves while floral buds of deep jewel tones promise brighter scenarios to come. (Click on any image to see a larger photo)

The woodland trees – oak, ash, maple, hickory – are in their glory, leaves unfurled in a rich tapestry of fresh new color, that brief moment in time before they settle into the solemn shades of summer.

For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver. ~Martin Luther

The trees call to me as they arch over the garden, protective, connecting earth to sky, a verdant canopy that magically sifts and filters the light. “Walk in our greenness” they seem to say, “partake of our calm and silence.”summersnowflake

Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. ~Tagore

I wish you a green and glorious May; I invite you to walk through a woodland and breathe in harmony with the earth.

See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence . . . We need silence to be able to touch souls. ~Mother Teresa

All photos ©2017 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.

January Thaw

Winter, an artist’s sketch in charcoal,
so clearly etched against a cloud filled sky . . .
~ from the song “Winter” 

After weeks of “real” winter, complete with snow, ice, and sleet, the rains came yesterday. Thick layers of snow and ice began to crumble and melt in the suddenly warm temperatures, assaulted by alternating pounding rainstorms and soft drizzles.  By evening, a fog had arisen between the melting snow and the warm air and swirled upwards throughout the night.  This morning, mist and fog lay heavily in the woods and along the streams, turning the winter landscape into a mysteriously beautiful January thaw.

I felt as if I were moving through a dream as I walked through the woods. The dark trunks of immense oaks stood like sentinels guarding a secret kingdom in the mist, fading to gray in the distance. Drops of water clung to delicate twigs and buds like sprays of crystals. Snow lingered in pockets, slowly seeping into the garden beds and revealing fresh green growth.

January thaw is an observed but unexplained temperature rise in mid-winter found in mid-latitude North America.” (Wikipedia) The thaw is generally centered around the date of January 25, when a rise of temperatures by 10 degrees Fahrenheit occurs for about a week. The Farmer’s Almanac notes its common designation as “false spring” and compares it to the phenomenon of Indian Summer, the predictable surge of warm weather in autumn. This year, certainly, the thaw is more than 10 degrees warmer than usual; yesterday’s temperature reached 50 F and today will be a balmy 64 F.

The sun is shining now, the mist a memory. I intend to celebrate the January thaw by working in the garden while dreaming of the arrival of “real spring.” Enjoy the morning walk in the woods with me. (Click on any photo to trigger the gallery view)

There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter.  One is the January thaw.  The other is the seed catalogues.
–  Hal Borland

Trees That Sing

Never did pine trees seem so dear. How sweet was their breath and their song, and how grandly they winnowed the sky!  naturalist John Muir, from “Steep Trail”

It seems fitting at this time of year, when we bring pine and holly into our homes to celebrate the holidays, to give some thought to trees. I have been in love with trees my entire life, spending hours in the woods as a child, walking among them, climbing them, reading beneath them. Not surprisingly, I was married in a grove of plum trees on my parents’ farm; the night before the wedding, the trees on the farm came to me in a dream and promised me that they would be there as witnesses. Then they sang the most beautiful song, with voices deeper than the deepest Russian men’s choir. That song, untranslatable into earthly song, has always stayed with me.

Trees figure large in the human imagination, in myth and archetype, in holy writ. The notion of the sacred tree is present in most cultures. The idea of towering giants whose roots are as deep as their heads are high is profound and symbolic, even as they feed us, shelter us, transport us and hold us in their arms. After reading Julie Moir Messervy’s “The Inward Garden” which uses an archetypal approach to garden design, I created my lower garden around the idea of a cosmic tree at its center. It is a small weeping cherry surrounded by a tall hardwood forest, a still point in the center of the swirl of trees and flowers and birds.

Surrounded by these same trees as I was sitting on my deck (and perhaps remembering my wedding eve dream,) I was inspired to write Trees of Righteousness, a three movement choral work commissioned to celebrate the 125th anniversary of our university.

Here’s a brief clip from the first movement: (Text: They shall be called trees of righteousness, planted by the Lord)

Many musical instruments, including guitars, cellos, pianos, and wooden flutes, are constructed from the wood of trees, perhaps extending the voice of the tree in another way. It is conjectured that Antonio Stradivari used the wood of very slow growing trees (see the Maunder Minimum hypothesis) that ultimately became his celebrated violins.

And finally, here is a link to an unusual video of a man, Diego Stucco, who chose to make music with a living tree. Enjoy.

All images (except wedding photo), audio and text of “Trees That Sing” ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved