the wood for the trees

Some trees have strong presences

I’m continually drawn to certain trees and visit and re-visit them. I’ve always loved trees. When I lived in the city I would gravitate to the parks, to the botanical gardens, and the massive Moreton Bay Figs of Sydney, with their fleshy limbs, their strange indentations, their hairy aerial roots. Trees are sacred in many cultures, especially in Aboriginal culture.

In the bush, the Angophoras reign, for me a favorite tree, their bark like flesh, ‘bodies’ graceful as dancers.

flesh

flesh

Trees have their own characters, revealed by ways of looking. In writing this blog, I discovered that there’s a whole ‘wood spirit carving’ community – carvers of totems, walking sticks, strange tree-men, who say they are releasing the wood’s ‘spirit’.

the scream I’m not necessarily talking about ‘beautiful’ trees. A favorite poet, Robert Gray sometimes writes about pines – from his poem The Pine:

The rhythm amongst these
such
a music, all
by chance.
Alone
in the back paddock
in the yellow grass

innocence

innocence

Some trees have bark like flesh, like skin, especially the Angophoras and the Scribbly Gums. From Judith Wright’s poem, Scribbly Gum:

I peeled its splitting bark
and found the written track
of a life I could not read

map

map

black mood

black mood

These intriguing designs, like a kind of writing, are caused by the larvae of the Scribbly Gum moth, Ogmograptis Scribula. Read about the facinating life-cycle of these rarely seen moths here.

Wright says, ‘Words are not meanings for a tree.’ This is true – I am imposing my own meanings upon the tree. In Gum-Trees Stripping, she writes:

Wisdom can see the red, the rose,
the stained and sculptured curve of grey,
the charcoal scars of fire, and see
around that living tower of tree
the hermit tatters of old bark
split down and strip to end the season;
and can be quiet and not look
for reasons past the edge of reason

smell the flowers

smell the flowers

scars

scars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wound

wound

Trees are sacred in many cultures, including in ancient Europe, which was once covered by great primaeval forests.

Trees are an important part of Aboriginal culture.

Watte Wanne & Dhunghutti Aboriginal Elder and artist, Aunty Kerrie Kenton writes, ‘Since time began trees have held significant value to Aboriginal people. Trees are not only culturally and spiritually important, but their importance also forms part of everyday life.’ Aunty Kerrie Kenton writes about the Parramatta area – see the full text of her article and see some of her artwork here.

Aboriginal poet and activist Lisa Bellear’s poem, Beautiful Yoroke Red River Gum talks about the survivors of genocide watching over the remaining Red River Gums along the Yarra in Melbourne. Read the full text of her poem here.

hooded

hooded

slit

What has the water seen?

What has the water seen?

2 thoughts on “the wood for the trees

  1. Jill

    Lovely post Jane, & such evocative photos. Look forward to exploring the links. I’m a tree lover too, from way back, having grown up climbing them.

    Reply
  2. Jane Skelton Post author

    Thank you Jill, I’m glad you’ve liked it. I’m not much of a tree climber myself – heights make me nervous!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>