A Nature Trio

An Essay By Aisling // 6/14/2004

BRISTLECONE PINE — 10/22/03

The mountain is tall, and rough, and stony.
It rises like a giant of strength and endurance, from the green land below.
Away toward the very point of its summit all life seems to have gone, shrinking away from the wind and the rough ground.
But then, raising its grey and withered body form the mountain’s face, there stands a tree.
Its trunk is twisted and bent; the few branches that have endured the mountain’s harsh winds protrude from the trunk, worn, split, even shattered.
To the eyes of a distant observer, the tree appears dead, lifeless, bested.
Indeed, even when viewed closely, it seems more death than alive. Only a few branches still bear any sign of life—valiantly pushing forth rough, thick greenery.
The winds rage; the air cuts cold; the firm ground fights the ancient roots unceasingly; the lingering snow freezes their life almost out of existence.
The tree’s life is a constant battle against death. Weary, beaten, hollowed, worn, it holds out. Day by day, year by year, decade by decade. What has it seen? What has it heard? What could it tell us? Its very existence speaks—tells us much.
Not all that is alive seems so. Not everything that looks empty, desolate, petrified, is dead.
Life can endure, because God’s strength has been breathed into the tree—
His will is that it carries on. If, for a moment, He stopped willing it, the tree would fail.
But even when everything that surrounds it works to tear it down, His will suffices to keep that bare life strong. Even on the face of a cold, rocky mountain, there is a symbol of a hope that is strong, steady, and simplistic.

STUDY OF NATURE — 2/26/04

I’m in the car, and I look out upon a group of trees…
Their dull brown arms standing out against the fair blue sky, wildly reaching upward. Free. Unconcerned. Haphazardly stretching—longing—straining—
searching; catching the light on their topmost fingertips holding the shadows captive in the bends of their rough trunks; the light making them russet, ruddy; the shadows making them dense, dark, deserted.

And then I’m home, and I look out upon the evening scene…
And the sun setting in raiment of glory. Shedding golden warmth and light over the wet green earth, over the yet-naked trees, over the clear sky. And the turf becomes a rolling sea of light and shadow, and the trees a randomly-woven net of evening’s radiant breath and life, and the sky an endless and changeless dome of blue and white and everything in between. In short, the day is sighing contentedly as it resigns its last stage of life, its last breath, in a warming glow of brilliance—fading into a rest that shall give way to the waking of the morrow.

TODAY — 03/05/04

The sun’s casting long, gangly tree shadows across the leaf-strewn lawn. The shadows away back and forth as the heavy wind blows around their masters.
Dead brown leaves are caught up even to the roof, and thrown wildly about in circles. Then they’re let go again. For a moment the wind weakens; tame, reserved. Then it comes roaring back as recklessly, as ever- more so, really.
The sparse, spread-out clouds are blown across the face of the sun, and the world is suddenly chilly, harsh, frightening, bleak, grey. But the wind always lows them on, and the sun comes back to make everything seem delightfully alive, and wild, and warmly free again.
And all the while the wind blows on. Sometimes softly, but always growing quickly to be loud and furious. Whipping through the bare grey branches, it whistles and shrieks and roars. Sometimes I have to stop writing and stare out in fear and awe and wonder.
Today the world is a wild recklessness of blue sky and white clouds, green grass and grey shadows, brown leaves and golden sunlight.
Tomorrow it may rain, or snow, or grow cold and bleak and grey. But not today.
(The next day, it snowed.)

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