It has been said that “only God can make a tree.” Why do we agree with this? Isn’t it because we realize that we ourselves could not make one? Indeed, can we even describe a tree? We cannot, except in superficial terms. We can say, for instance, that a certain molecular configuration manifests itself as a tree. But what mind is there among men that could even record, let alone direct, the constant changes in molecules that transpire in the life span of a tree? Such a feat is utterly unthinkable!
Leonard Read – I, Pencil
This passage is a testament to the complexity embodied by a tree. But it is also a provocation; a challenge to us, as we continue our semester long investigation of trees. Indeed we began today to move beyond superficial terms with the tree, quite literally, but also I think uncovering a deeper level of inquiry. Seeing the root exposed like this, vulnerable in its trough of dirt, offers a more potent sense of it’s aliveness. Whereas the branches expand freely into the air and sunlight, the roots must navigate the substance of the subterranean negotiating with rocks, soil, and other roots, in their lifelong quest for nutrients. They seem more tendril-like than do the branches, reaching, searching and feeling their way just beneath our feet. Almost like a river, the root meanders through its medium, contending with obstacles. Where will this tributary lead us as we continue to chart its course?