Posts tagged ‘tree’

March 10, 2016

Proof that one voice really can make a difference . . .

I woke up this morning to find workers cutting down the trees in the yard behind my apartment. When I talked to the workers, I learned that they had been asked to remove all the trees in order to “save” the pavement in a nearby parking lot, which was starting to buckle under the trees’ root systems.

This is, to my mind, a major misplacement of priorities. Something is very wrong when people value paved surfaces like parking lots over living, breathing trees — trees that mark the seasons with their budding and falling leaves; trees that provide hang-outs for birds; trees that offer a tiny shred of natural beauty and a few pearls of peace in our “go-go-go” urban concrete environment.

I wrote a letter to the apartment board, expressing my dismay in their decision to cut down the trees. I described the value the trees brought to me and the neighbourhood by their very presence. I didn’t think my letter would do any good — the trees were being cut down as I typed the words and pressed send.

A few hours later, I received a call from my landlord. He said that the apartment board had taken my letter to heart and were going to stop cutting the trees down.

So half the trees in my back yard will live.

All because one person (me) wrote one letter defending something they believed in, and one group of people (the apartment board) was open enough to listen (and for that, I want to thank them).

Heartening proof that one voice really can make a difference. . . .¬†ūüĆĪ

January 6, 2014

If time is a circle, can you live on the edge?

We may not realize it, but the concept of linear time is very much a construct of Western civilization. The idea that a person can physically exist in only one temporal dimension — the present moment — without the ability to move between the past and the future worlds, does not hold sway in many other cultures, where time moves at a different pace or even on a different continuum.

Take, for example, the Haida First Nation living in Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands), a remote archipelago off the northwest coast of British Columbia. For the Haida, writes author John Vaillant in his 2005 book The Golden Spruce, “time operates more like a spiral, or like the rings of a tree.” Vaillant continues:

There is a saying among the peoples of the Northwest Coast: “The world is as sharp as the edge of a knife,” and Robertson Davidson, [a well-known Haida artist and carver], imagines this edge as a circle. “If you live on the edge of the circle,” he explained in a documentary film, “that is the present moment. What’s inside is knowledge, experience: the past. What’s outside has yet to be experienced. The knife’s edge is so fine that you can live either in the past or in the future. The real trick,” he says, “is to live on the edge.”

It’s an intriguing concept, this idea of time growing outwards like a tree. In this case, time is circular, but the plane is horizontal, not vertical, and the direction of movement is outwards in radial lines from the centre, not in loops around the circumference. Here, the countless “rings” of past life and experience accumulate in the centre of the circle, pushing the present — and the future — ever outwards, but remaining close at hand, consolidated and strong, in case of need. This circle, it seems, would collapse without the foundation of the past to keep it strong; yet the circle would also cease to expand and grow if not for the present moment always moving towards (and into) the future.

As novel as this concept may appear to a linear mind, the Haida perspective does share one thing in common with its Western counterpart — and that is the difficulty of staying in the present moment. The present moment is a knife-edge, says Robertson Davidson; it is easy for a person to slip off that edge into either the past or the future. Whether you slip off that edge in a physical sense or a mental one doesn’t really matter, I’d argue. In the end, the trick is the same: ¬†to live on the edge — not in the sense of embracing risk or pushing boundaries, but in the sense of existing in that hair’s-width space of the present moment.

December 26, 2013

Why I love B.C. – Geography on a grand scale

Everything about British Columbia is big — so big that the province’s physical dimensions, geographic features, cultural diversity and biological plenitude often defy imagination. Author John Vaillant pays fitting homage to the grandeur of this fair land in his book The Golden Spruce:

By any measure, British Columbia is an absolutely enormous place; it occupies two time zones and is bigger than 164 of the world’s countries.* All of California, Oregon and Washington could fit inside it with room left over for most of New England. From end to end and side to side, the province is composed almost entirely of mountain ranges that are thickly wooded from valley bottom to tree line. Even today, it is a hard country to navigate; the drive from Vancouver, in the southwest corner, to Prince Rupert, halfway up the coast, takes 24 hours — weather permitting. There are only two paved roads accessing its northern border, and one of them is the Alaska Highway. B.C.’s coastline — including island and inlets — is 21,000 kilometres long, and all of it was once forested, in most cases down to the¬†waterline. . . . [T]his landscape exudes an overwhelming power to diminish all who move across it.

* There are 196 countries in the world as of this writing. 

April 16, 2013

Observed on the trail: Faces in the trees

I came across these two wonderfully intricate carvings peering out at me from tree trunks along a path in Prince George’s Cottonwood Island Park:

Intricate carving of the face of an Indian chief in the bark of a tree           Intricate carving of the face of an old, bearded man in the bark of a tree trunk.

March 1, 2013

March challenge: Be like a birch tree

The Ukrainian word for the month of March means “birch tree.”

In Celtic culture, the birch tree represents growth, renewal, stability, initiation and adaptability.  According to Avia Venefica on her web site Whats-Your-Sign.com:

The birch is highly adaptive and able to sustain harsh conditions with casual indifference.  Proof of this adaptability is seen in its easy and eager ability to repopulate areas damaged by forest fires or clearings.  Bright and beautiful, the birch is a pioneer, courageously taking root and starting anew to revive the landscape where no other would before.

Your challenge this month — should you encounter challenge or harsh conditions in your own life — is to be like the birch tree. ¬†Find ways to adapt to your situation, without fear or favour. ¬†Strive to outlast the storms of adversity with your own flexibility, and lay roots in any new soil (or old ashes) you find before you. ¬†Stand tall and beautiful in your new surroundings, whether you asked for them or not, and extend your branches up to the sun. ¬†Like the birch tree, you can thrive here. ¬†You can thrive anywhere. ¬†Thrive, shine and grow.