I see you all standing there together, under the sun. I’m sure you talk among yourselves, maybe about the olden days, maybe about the stars, or about that one year when the rains never stopped.
I saw you back in the days when I didn’t know why I loved you. Back when I walked between you and dreamed. And now, now that I know why I love you, I try to hear what you’re saying. I try and understand your language and I listen for your jokes and your songs. I check on your babies as they grow up.
I try to be like you, but mostly it’s me being in love with the metaphor of it. I’m sometimes kinda like you, but really, my goddamn mouth is too loud. My patience is not so great, it is not like all of you. I have trouble with my opinions and my ego, unlike you. You and your amazing grace, in your stillness, in your wild dances when the storms rip and the fires burn.
But, you know. Yeah, you do know that you help me dream. Maybe it’s because I follow you around and sit in your shadows while you stand there together, under the sun. You must know that I am amazed by you, even those of you who are misshapen or forgotten, I love you as well.
And you, old cottonwood, remember when I made that spot in your upper terrace, outside the schoolyard? Remember how my Ma knew to come looking there and would call up through the branches, “Tobias, are you there?” I am there now, these years later, up in your branches in my memory. I remember the way to get up there, the steps and bends and holes along that upward spiral.
And you, big blue spruce on the edge of the property by the road, I wonder if that pallet is still in your branches? Remember when I stayed hidden in your evergreen bows, above angry drivers, snowball pelted and red-faced?
And you, black walnut tree, with your leathery fruit. Remember how I liked to jump from your long, sprawling arms, one to the next? I was more lost than ever in my dreams that were tangled and unsure and hidden from everyone, but you knew them, didn’t you. You knew that I daydreamed that there was some vestige of Tarzan in my thumping heart. You saw my pretend life.
And there are all the rest of you, lining the ridges and hiding the streams. There are all of you in the parks in New York City and San Francisco. And I recognize the Older Ones, the bristlecones up on the Whites, standing for thousands of years, long enough to watch the stones change shape under the wind, long enough to see races of men come and go. And the cedars, you are something different aren’t you? With your toes laced in ferns and mushrooms and your atmosphere and cloak and your voice that calls in the beasts in their final hours. And redwoods and firs and elders and larchs and madrones and dogwoods and aspens and maples and oaks and peppers and joshuas and junipers and pinions and lengas and poplars and cyprus’ and the many many of you all, I love you. Lucky us, that we live on a planet that needs you. We humans need you. And for the humans that never say it, I will say it for them. I see you standing there, quiet, under the sun.