Field Notes: Physical and Spiritual Events

Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 2:00pm While sitting on the green grass in the crisp cool fall air with my giant sequoia, I realized how lonely my tree must feel on Saturday afternoons. Despite inanimate surroundings like buildings, trees, or shrubs and moving parts of our surroundings like the squirrels, birds, or humans, isolation still occurs on a daily basis. There is not a moment in the day when a building or another tree actually notices my giant sequoia. Because my tree has a very limited ability to interact with others (living and non-living), the sequence of events I was able to observe today came from physical changes in my tree’s behavior and deep analysis of my tree’s spirit.

A crisp fall day.

A crisp fall day.

Since a tree’s growth cannot be observed in minutes or even hours, non-developmental movements create some of the most exciting moments in my sequoia’s day, especially during this time of year. I witnessed a series of handshakes between the gentle wind gusts and the branches of my tree where they seemed to have met before so each shake remained brief and confidently forceful. The air grasped several branches with enough force to send a gradual wave-like shiver down the arms of the tree into the trunk. The tree’s structure provides adequate protection and flexibility to the branches to survive these handshakes and other natural forces. The flesh of each green needle grows in a staggered and reinforcing pattern around each limb of the tree which contributes to the tree’s strength against other more powerful forces.

Close-up of the tree's needles.

Close-up of the tree’s needles.

Underneath the needles and the bark, this giant sequoia has a living spirit constantly reacting to the physical conditions of the tree, especially when changes are detected. As my tree adapts to the colder temperatures and the cloudier days, an essential part of its day is time spent visualizing. In order to maintain its health and ability to grow, my tree relies on visualization to feel warm enough to eat, drink, and breathe at times when the weather fails to provide vital warmth and light. I interpreted some of the moments when my tree stood silent and still as visualization sessions where the sequoia was imagining a bright yellow sun and a warm summer breeze to distract itself from the overcast and chilly atmosphere. Of course, not all moments of my tree’s silent and calm existence translated into visualization because I also noticed a deeper need transpiring.

Silent and still.

Silent and still.

After a few cycles of the handshakes and visualization tricks, my sequoia started to sit unusually calm for longer periods of time while a family took portraits on the field behind it. Sometimes the wind would reach out for a handshake and my tree would remain frozen, as if lost in thought. Longing for interaction and comforting warmth from others, my tree sat frozen for the majority of my time with it. Not only did my tree desire to gain attention but it also lacked the feeling of being wanted and needed by others. Unlike the trees behind the sequoia that played important roles in each of the photographs that the family took, my tree remained distanced from them and as a result, irrelevant to them.

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