roots

5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

Plants are the young of the world, vessels of health and vigor; but they grope ever upward towards consciousness; the trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment, rooted in the ground.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Meditations of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Into the Green Future)

5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

It has been said that trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!
~ John Muir
(The Wilderness World of John Muir)

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

Who do you agree with, Emerson or Muir? I wonder, are trees frustrated by their lot in life, glued to one spot, or are they content to be firmly anchored into the ground? Or perhaps, like people, each tree has a different way of embracing the world…

5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
5.10.09 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

16 thoughts on “roots”

  1. I can’t think of one single sad tree that I have ever met in my life Barbara, in fact they always seem to be rather contented with their patch of ground, can send their roots out in any direction they pleased, offer leaves of shade to travellers, branches for tiny birds to build their nests in, their leaves and branches move with the breeze…no, they don’t seem unhappy with their lot in life to me at all, so I’d have to agree with John Muir (although I do love to read the thoughts of Ralph Waldo Emerson also!) You have seen a good many interesting roots of trees in your travels too. šŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Joanne! When I was a little girl I had three aunts who lived in three different boroughs of New York City, and while visiting them I met quite a few sad trees, struggling to survive in small holes in the sidewalks, surrounded by litter, dog waste and bus exhaust. I wished I could rescue them and take them home to plant in the woods. šŸ™‚

      So I think trees are similar to people, some luck out and easily thrive where they are planted, some manage to prevail against all odds and grow strong in a harsh environment, and some are broken, defeated and depressed.

  2. The “Ents” in the Lord of the Rings can walk, but it doesn’t seem to bring them a lot of joy.

    I think overall trees are happy where they are … till the loggers arrive.

    1. Ah yes, the ancient shepherds of the forest… Watching The Lord of the Rings made me wonder about what might happen if trees could mobilize and express their opinions on matters that concern them.

  3. Hi. Near the lake, we have a cedar tree with these exposed, tangled roots. I always think they are showing the tree’s deepest memories. I love the photo of the tree embracing the rock! Jane

    1. That’s a lovely idea, Jane, roots expressing deep memories. I’m especially fond of the tree embracing the rock, too, and I’m glad I took that picture. I went to take a picture of it in a different season and was not able to locate it again!

  4. Hi Barbara, I agree with Muir. Trees in my yard are in many stages of growth and decay. When the wind is blowing wildly, I sometimes think I hear them moaning to one another, but soon realize they’re not complaining, just stretching out their cramped limbs as we often do too after spending one hour too many in a contented spot šŸ˜‰

    1. Amy-Lynn, you describe a beautiful scene in your yard, trees enjoying the chance to stretch their limbs during a windstorm. šŸ™‚ We heard lots of moaning by the trees in our yard during Blizzard Charlotte, and then sadly, more than a few limbs and trunks snapping under the weight of the heavy wet snow ā€“ sharp death pangs. But it’s all part of the circle of life and they had a very good life here, although some of the birds returning north have been forced to find new trees for nest building…

  5. I tend to agree with Muir. All the trees I’ve met seem happy or at least content with where they are. Lovely collection of tree roots and quotes. šŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Robin. šŸ™‚ When I was little I often felt trapped inside my body, and I wonder if it was because I was ‘groping ever upwards towards consciousness’ as Emerson observes…

  6. I always feel the contentment of trees … each in its way … sometimes with leanings … some going higher and higher … others just spreading out. Even as they seem to stay in one place there is always movement … if just the wind blowing through them. Lovely post! Thanks for sharing. XO

    1. Diane, your comment made me remember an episode of Nova called The Secret Life of Plants. Trees and plants may seem like they’re not doing anything, stuck where they are planted, but scientists are discovering that plants take action to fight off insects and send out danger alarms to other plants. They communicate with each other and some even make choices about which way to grow, not just towards the sun or water. It’s an amazing world!

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/insidenova/2009/08/the-secret-life-of-plants.html

  7. Yes, you did a darn good job of photographing these roots. I am smiling at your pondering wondering if trees could be frustrated standing in one spot. I am now thinking they shake their branches at the flighty homeless birds and wonder why they can’t grow roots. šŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Kathy. Thinking about the illusion of boundaries — branches are nothing without roots and birds who use their wings for flight are nothing without branches to perch on. There’s truly no separation and no choice to be made after all. šŸ™‚

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