38 years ago today John and I were married in Sidney, B.C., dressed in our finest. The bride wore a gauzy dress made by Yofi Creations and a wreathe of yellow roses in her hair; the groom was resplendent in a plaid tie, a Harris tweed jacket we’d bought in London and which never really fit (the salesman kept saying, “Oh I like my clothes tight, don’t you?” and it seemed churlish to disagree…), and wide corduroy trousers. This morning John said, 38 years, and his hands made that gesture: where did they go? Where indeed.
Furthermore, the rings in the branches that have been cut off show the number of its years, and which were damper or drier according to the greater or lesser thickness of these rings. The rings also reveal the side of the world to which they are turned . . . — Leonardo Da Vinci, Leonardo on Painting
How in age a tree remembers, how the feet of tiny birds felt on the bark; how on a summer day, drowsing in sunlight, a tree might have been startled awake by a bear climbing to its first strong branch; how an osprey might have settled on the broken crown to survey the lake, the glittering run of river. How the pines stand in their wild observatories, anchored in rock, looking to the heavens, drinking deeply from the aquifer. They have seen meteorites fall, leaned into wind with sockeye migrating below them; given a small shake as ash from burning forests settled on their boughs.
How in age our own bodies remember their youth, how it felt to make love on bare ground (pollen drifting from one cone to another), to rise and walk among trees, light shimmering through their leaves. Listen! A nuthatch, a grey jay, a woodpecker, feasting on insects. How time compresses, so that all summers arrange themselves in a codex of dry skin, tart berries on the tongue, the surprise of cold water as we entered rivers. How later, organizing the photographic archive, we try to imagine ourselves back into that tent on Nicola Lake, our children racing down from the volcano, the pines filtering early morning sun so beautifully that later we say, “it was paradise.”
—from “Pinus ponderosa: A Serious Waltz, a chapter from Mnemonic: A Book of Trees, published by Goose Lane Editions, 2011.