Thursday, January 1, 2009
Young trees for a New Year
"Young tree for the New Year," Tim Connor, All rights reserved
I keep photographing trees. All kinds, all seasons & all stages of growth, but especially young transplanted trees, like the one above, that have been given the basics of soil, drainage, sunlight & (in my city) a chicken-wire fence against marauding kids & leg-lifting dogs.
This year I have decided to invoke the young trees as a symbol of new beginnings. In the culture generally, of course, a baby human plays this role. The early Catholic church -- much smarter than it is now -- originally chose the story of baby Jesus's hard-times' birth to overlay the old pagan solstice rituals. And it worked. True, baby Jesus was supposed to represent just the Christmas part of the solstice festivities, but in fact he stayed for the whole season. At some point a knockoff version even got into the New Year's celebration as the merry little cartoon cherub with the year-number emblazoned on his diaper
I mean no disrespect to the baby savior myth -- which I have always loved -- but maybe it's time for something different.
Mammalian babies inspire devotion because they're all beautiful possibility. They're chubby & soft, their skin & hair is fresh & sweet-smelling, their eyes are lustrous. No wonder we say they're adorable. Baby trees on the other hand are actually much uglier than their adult counterparts. For young trees there's no evolutionary percentage in being cute.
So let's hear it for the skanky, spikey sprouts, shaking & shivering in the winter blasts. They don't care if they look ridiculous inside their chicken-wire enclosures, trussed & cabled in their woodchip yards. They just want to make it till spring. With time, a certain amount of rainfall & good luck they'll shoot up into the airey world above the rest of us. They'll be stately & leafy & venerable, admired, perhaps even famous. They'll be real works of art.