Solitary Trees

What does looking at a solitary tree teach us?

It teaches us gratitude, for it provides us with shelter from the rain and shades us from the sun.

It teaches us strength, for one tiny seedling that falls into a crack can eventually split a great boulder.

It teaches us defiance, for it survives droughts and floods, storms and scorching heat.

It teaches us beauty, for its sculpted contours and ever changing hues redeem landscapes that are otherwise dusty and bare.

It teaches us shame, for it endures our thoughtless breaking of its branches and desecration of its bark.

It teaches us humility, for it will last long after we, with all our ephemeral clutter - our benches, our lamp-posts, our paths and our buildings - are gone.

A lone tree teaches us also the value of friends, for it has none. It stands alone, day and night, season by season, year after year for decades or centuries, deep rooted and permanent as the surrounding land is dug up, developed and despoiled.

Their longevity lends perspective to our obsession with the short-term and immediate.

They are consumers of our toxins, a refuge for the birds and animals that we disturb, mitigators of our unsightliness. They are reminders of an earlier, simpler world, of the nature that we urban dwellers have largely left behind.

These trees stand on different continents thousands of miles apart but they stand together in their isolation. In a copse or a forest, they would have no such significance, no such magnificence. They would be lost.

…but they are not lost, they are with us; they are poems in a physical form.