On December 21, the earth began to turn its face toward the sun again. This spectacular photograph by Don McVeigh, who lives in Champlain Park neighbourhood, depicts a sun halo captured at sunset during yesterday's winter solstice. It's as though the sky is hugging massive trees close to its celestial heart on a special day in the circle that marks time.
Among the planet's tree huggers, none touched me more this year than learning about those who live and hug trees in Melbourne, Australia. In November, someone in the BIG TREES group told me how Melbourne's forestry division gave trees an email address as part of a 2015 online mapping project. The institution wanted residents to help them track the trees--although it seems to me they were unlikely to escape a database.
What did people in Melbourne do with those tree email addresses? They wrote love letters to the trees. This may be my favourite:
I have to say, you have the most beautiful canopy and I love how the light green leaves on your branches contrast with the darkness of your trunk. We really should have more trees of your kind in our city.
Stay awesome. Hugs! A
Tree love also manifested in other important ways during 2017.
Diana Berseford-Kroeger's lush documentary film Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees was screened around the world and is now available as a DVD. In a recent blog post, Diana, who lives near Kemptville, ON, describes the film's many accolades.
Another labour of love I applaud was access to an English edition of The Hidden Life of Trees. Canada's David Suzuki Foundation paid to translate the original manuscript from German to English. That generosity helped millions of humans to understand how trees support and communicate with each other. This connection exists as much in your backyard as in the deep, wild forests that do even more heavy breathing for us.
Have you noticed the sense of nostalgia that exists in the subtitles of the film and book I've just cited? The titles refer to trees as having "forgotten wisdom" and a "hidden life." Many people incorrectly cite the book title as "the secret life" of trees--something even more opaque than a "hidden life."
If humanity's paving over of the earth has effectively created amnesia about the living,breathing trees around us, can the shedding of light by films and books--and by the activism that I urge you to undertake in 2018--open us to a new experience of our relationship with them?
During the endarkening of autumn, I found myself immersed this year in Leonard Cohen's music. His infamously dark song, The Future, contains this stark statement
Take the only tree that's left
And stuff it up the hole
In your culture
In my opinion, our job, here in Kitchissippi Ward, is to create a culture that sustains the beauty and vitality of nature around us. This begins and ends with trees alive today on our streets and yards. Let's plan to sing Hallelujah in 2018.