The Standing People


10.17.13  These are my favorite trees.  There are a dozen or so of these huge maples which frame in a white house on a corner, near the Village post office.  They catch the wind off the north edge of the lake so they are always talking.  In the dead of winter, the branches are black against the gray sky and they rattle and creak and moan when I walk under them.  It seems to take forever for their windsor green leaves to grow open in the spring time.  And, they are in their glory right now, quaking golden in the October light.

Walking under them with my camera a few days ago, I realized I was tip-toeing and trying not to make a sound.  I wanted to listen to the falling leaves coming down around me, but I was aware that I am always still and quiet in their presence, no matter the season.  Of course, that big black eye is always watching me, and the massive wrinkled trunks coming out of the ground, often look like the legs of an elephant.  I am such a small human in their grove.  I know I am in a sacred place, so I whisper.

Native Americans refer to trees as “the standing people.”  They are “givers of the Earth”, providing shelter and branches for the birds, burrows for the little creatures under the ground, wood to build our homes and keep them warm.  The Cherokee say, “trees are always giving of themselves to provide for the needs of others.  Each tree has its own gifts, talents, and abilities to share with the humans and other creatures of Earth.”

I carried home one of the beautiful fallen leaves; its veins remind me of my own hand.  I wanted to remember our connection to one another.  Driving down our road, I noticed a fresh swath of sawdust across the gravel.  I looked up to see that the 65 foot Douglas Fir “leaner” tree, threatening for years now to crash down in a wind storm and block the road, was gone.  I saw its big freshly cut logs stacked in a new row at the wood pile.  It has been on Don’s to-do list for a long time, and when I asked him how it went, he reported that it had not been a smooth operation.  The chain saw stuck in his first wedge cut, then there was some sort of wenching procedure to free the saw, and when the Doug Fir finally fell, it got hung up on another tree.  Eventually he wrapped a rope around its body, tied it to the trailer hitch on his car, and brought it down.

Thanksgiving is coming up, and it occurred to me that perhaps a little gratitude is in order here at our house, surrounded by so many standing people.  So easy to take for granted all that they give us.

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