Excerpt. Personal Essay. Carbon Dioxide
This is another one in which I have cut from you both the beginning and the end. I really like the end so at some point perhaps I shall post this in it’s entirety.
So once the howling starts like an air raid siren I step outside and breathe in some fresh air.
In World War two English families sent their children out to the country where they would be safe from falling bombs. Thousands of children were sent to live with relatives outside of the city.
In the front yard of my house is a tree whose branches I know as steps to a ladder. Looking straight up the sky becomes a mosaic where brown boarders frame various hues of green. It is a church of its own to the faithful. The patch of bark raw from my clumsy climbing feet is the welcome mat of an old friend.
Being outside, some distance away, the sounds of the storm from inside is muffled. Turbulent waters can calm suddenly sometimes. Think gently shaking water surface beneath the rolling dark grey clouds.
One tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air in a single day, think of a heavy morning fog wrapped around you, think of shelter from the sun, shelter from a storm.
Moving up the steps, wooden growing limbs the reach out to support my feet, I climb up climbing climbing even when it becomes difficult and scary. The branches grow younger and thinner. Here it becomes a weaving between fresh sticks and new growth. The path up is less clear and at points I have to stop, backtrack, and find a new way forward. Along the sturdy trunk I had left markers for myself as if to say, we’ve reached this place before and we can do it again.
And at this very highest point where the tree sways slowly back and forth like a ship sitting patiently in the ocean, at this top is a little gap between branches sized just for me, a perfect crow’s nest lookout with a view to reach the top my street. I can’t hear the war anymore, up here there is only the wind whistling, humming calmly a sweet lullaby to a child who needs it.
A single tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for four people, think life support.
My old friend by the river is always there for me waiting. She breathes in Carbon Dioxide and breathes out oxygen. You breath out I’ll breath in. Ours is an effortless collaboration.
There are 23,000 different kinds of trees, think cultures, languages, and variation in facial features.
My childhood companion produced helicopters that would rain down spinning like tops dancing like ice-skaters on the air and magical shower of green to distract from a rundown house in need of repair.
From a top that seems impossibly high I looked upon other trees now suddenly beneath me. I looked upon the roof of my house which now seemed so small and quiet. From up there I could see stains on the roof shingles; hidden dirt, leaves, and a gutter that needed cleaning, things one can’t really tell when looking up from the ground.
A trees wood is a highly organized arrangement of living, dying and dead cells, think about the planet earth as a whole.
Looking at the world from up high you can see how all the little piece fits together. This house and that, each with its own drive way and garage. You can see other trees far off in the distance something usually out of view and they’re waving a warm greeting.
Most tree species live for a few hundred years. Some live longer some live less. The Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Pinus longaeva is known to live for 4844 years. The Alerce Fitzroya cupressoides can live for 3622 years, Giant Sequoia Sequoia sempervirens 3266 years, Huon-pine Lagarostrobos franklinii 2500 years, and Rocky Mountains Bristlecone Pine Pinus aristata 2435 years.
Imagine all that could be learned from thousands of years watching? Think all that could be witnesses with perspective from above, think of grandma’s stories if she’s been there for the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte.