Do trees have a “life?” Well, they certainly live and die but I wonder if we can push that kind of thinking onto trees, bestowing on them some kind of human ideal where we relate human qualities or values to their existence. We humans like to do that with everything, seeing ourselves in animals, plants, and inanimate objects all the time. It’s as if we still secretly believe that we are the center of the universe and so we must relate everything to our own experiences, knowledge, and expectations. How much does this narrow our existence? How much broader would our thinking be if we could encompass the individuality of each thing, assuming it has it’s own reality.
I’ve been thinking about trees today because I just read Diana Wells book, “Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History.” Really, it isn’t a history of trees but a history of how man has related to trees. So if you want to know how humans have used, worshiped, or destroyed a particular tree, this is the book for you. It’s funny how a History of Trees morphed into a History of Human Relations with Trees. Sometimes book titles are misleading. Then again, unless a tree writes the book, we’d be hard-pressed to find out what their lives are really like!
I took these photos last week in New Braunfelts, Texas. This is “Founders Oak” and is easily a couple of hundred years old. There’s a plaque about the tree, plus it’s fenced so you can’t climb it. It’s a shame–do you think it’s lonely? Plus the city has added these bricked supports so that the branches won’t break. Kind of like life-support. Although I must say that this tree is looking much better than most humans do in its old-age, with or without life-support.