MARCH 19, 2020
CODEC: 34.099190



There is a tree that I passed on my walk today.

It is massive, with a trunk so large and a root system so wide that it had destroyed the sidewalk under my feet. At some point the city said enough's enough and took a chainsaw to the thing, cutting cleanly through some of the roots and giving the bottom of the trunk a single flat edge.

The tree didn't seem to mind. It looked healthy and thriving, leaves green and branches outstretched to the sky, no worse off because of the world around it.

I recently read a book, The Overstory, a work of fiction in which the point of focus is not a particular person but instead particular trees. It tells the story of an immigrant who moves to America from Norway, hearing it is not only the land of opportunity but the 'land of free food', so many chestnuts growing from trees everywhere that you could fill your belly any time you like. He arrives and spends a night under a chestnut tree, lazily eating them until he has his fill. He takes a nut from the tree and plants it on his own property, and watches it grow. Then he has a child. Then the child has a child. Then that child has a child. And so on.

The tree grows on.

The characters come and go, they are born and then they die.

The tree grows on.

I looked at the giant tree which had grown so tall despite society's best efforts to reign it in, and I thought of the 'overstory' which it sees in the midst of our pandemic. I find it so hard to look a few days ahead, but I know that a few days will come and go and the tree will almost assuredly continue standing there.

In times of crisis one of the hardest things to do is just wait. We are creatures of action, used to moving and doing, and a moment like this in history which requires us to stay at home keeps us from finding that alluring momentum.

I find myself anxious, not only because of the current circumstances but because of the way it recalls my own past trauma, of the helplessness I felt as I read news about Northern California fires and wondered if my home would be okay.

My home was not okay and, like the tree I encountered on my walk, I watched the world shave a piece of me off as I fell victim to the environment in which I was rooted.

Yet here I am, a couple of years in the future, still present.

Still growing.

(Note: This picture is of the tree I found on my walk today, snatched off of Google Images...but the image is from 2009. ‘Still growing’ indeed.)