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Human Endeavour Includes thinking really hard...

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Old 9th February 2020, 05:00 AM   #456074  /  #1
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Read my posts with the following stupid accent: Norton's Empire
A paean, a soliloquy, a dirge, a chant to the aromatic dance of trees

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Old 10th February 2020, 03:59 AM   #456092  /  #2
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Read my posts with the following stupid accent: Norton's Empire
It's difficult to pick a favorite of the 11 odes, but this one is sticking with me.


VII. Nothofagus Beech

Queensland, Australia
Vintage: unknown, likely many centuries

A giant limb has snapped from the trunk, exposing smooth laminations of wood in the torn stub. At its center, the branch is maroon, as if soaked by red wine. Wrapped around this core are layers of cream-colored wood, smooth to the touch where the violence of the fall has peeled them apart. I lift this striking two-toned scar to my nose. I?m stunned by the gentle aroma. Despite the damp wind chilling me, the tree conveys warmth and calm. Buttery pastry fresh from the oven. The aroma of sun on ripe apples. But these impressions quickly fade. The limb came down just minutes ago, and already the wood is surrendering its inner life to the breeze.

These Nothofagus beeches are descendants of the forests of Gondwanaland. Their relatives live all across the southern hemisphere, from Chile to New Zealand. They were common in Antarctica before it froze. Here, at the easternmost edge of Australia, they?ve clung to the rim of an extinct volcano for centuries, each individual cycling through successive trunks. When old stems fall, new ones resprout from the living roots. They are so old that the slow erosion of the ground around them has left each tree on root stilts a meter high. The population persists on a strip of land hardly wider than a couple of trees? branch span. The trees live within a thin sliver of possibility: winds with enough moisture, temperatures just right. In their thriving, they bring to our senses the richness of Gondwanan rainforests.

I heft the limb to the side of the trail and return to the earthy aroma that enfolds the rest of this huge, gnarled tree. The fulsome odor of wet peat. A hint of tannic decay. The sharpness of fern fronds. Walking in the forest here is like swimming through a moss world. I?m a springtail, a tardigrade, a nematode, miniaturized by the huge trees, enveloped in moss. Every trunk and branch is swaddled. Fern stems snake through the verdant thickets on branches, poking their paddle-like leaves above the tangle. It?s likely that the water-saturated weight of this lush wrap is partly what broke the limb at my feet. Every tree branch is a sky-lake and forceful gusts push wood beyond its limits.

On this isolated mountain ridge, these ancient trees make their own rain. Wind blowing from lowland eucalyptus forests, cattle pastures, and Pacific shores cools as it swoops up the escarpment of the volcanic caldera. This sudden chill causes water vapor to condense. Dense clouds stream through the forest, even when the rest of the landscape lies under blue skies. The mop of moss and the dense thatch of tree leaves intercept the river of fog. Droplets land and accumulate. Moss and ferns hold on to some of their harvest, supping on the sky. The rest falls, ringing the ground below with moisture: every tree is a rain-maker. The ground between these halos is dusty dry.

This rainforest?s aroma is that of the rocky seashore, without the salty bite. A fecund exultation at the meeting place of water, sky, and life. This is an ancient triumph, started by the first algae and land plants on Paleozoic shores and carried to the present by every water-sucking root and moisture-quickened leaf. Here, the celebration reaches a zenith, water and plant life flowing into one another, lifting tree giants from the ground, soaking the air in the odors of green.
"Every tree branch is a sky-lake"

The tale about olive trees, is a favorite, too. I have an olive pollen allergy (only pollen, thankfully. The fruits and their oils are fine), and I've often imagined my distant ancestors tending to their olive trees while sneezing, coughing and wiping their noses.
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Old 19th February 2020, 05:28 PM   #456253  /  #3
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Read my posts with the following stupid accent: Canada
How did I miss this thread? Lovely.
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Old 22nd September 2020, 02:10 PM   #462410  /  #4
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Earthy ... gorgeous
no fences
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