The Trees Are the Roots of Life

winter scene of trees covered in snow and ice
The Woods

© Copyright 2022 Leanne Baker, Ryerson University

Trees live a very long time, with each kind thriving or succumbing to nature’s harshness. They endure many seasons and all sorts of adverse weather conditions and events, all of which can be apparent in their structure, leaves and shape. Observing them in different lighting, varying times of day and temperatures, different seasons, all offer a unique perspective each time.

The bush above on my family’s property is comprised mostly of Ash, a few Spruce, Cedar and Poplar trees. After a big snowfall, the deciduous trees looked rather bare but shimmered with crystals. The mildness caused the snow to stick to their branches, melting and forming ice, varying in thickness; a flawlessness yet imperfect art to the coating on the twigs. The coniferous trees are in strong contrast to this—a dark green slightly visible, with no coating. A fullness of the bark protecting the inner precious cells of the trees, like skin. The Cedar in the center of the photo also offers a slight contrast as well.  Does this perhaps mean the coniferous trees are stronger and manage the severeness of winter easier than others? 

A later hour in the cloudy day, shows white and grey contoured tone of the environment and aesthetic. The trunks of the trees are dark with gnarly bark, the small branches wrapped in silver. The wind calms in the late afternoon, so there is no movement of the branches or Spruce needles which adds to the solitude feeling of the trees. The leafless branches are like cold limbs looking like they may easily snap, but to actually touch one would differ depending on the tree. The quietness of the woods is palpable.

This bush has survived the severe ice storm in 1998 which as a result permanently damaged parts of many of the younger trees at the time. Several grew and adapted, as evident by the larger Ash tree on the right side of the photo that has a curved, overhanging branch. Their substantial height alludes to the age of the woods, and the enduring nature of the trees to survive. There are two small Cedar trees, center of the photo, that are dwarfed by the others and crowding of the larger Spruce and Ash trees has stunted their growth. Perhaps only the strong do survive.

Winter represents a season of death and/or dormancy for many living things in nature however surprisingly this woods photo invokes a sense of solace and comfort. This scene, although very calm, shows the coldness and eeriness of winter. However, the strength and strong will to point upwards and outwards continues. The bush is encroaching on the yard as is evident by the branches that are pointing in towards the clearing. The frost has wrapped the trees somewhat gauze like giving the appearance of wearing silver armor.

 In defiance the trees continue to proudly point upward possibly welcoming the winter as yet another hurdle to defy. Tress can represent human beings as both are rooted in nature, endurance, adaptation, and putting roots down. Appearance and reality can be different, each season impacting them all differently. Trees can teach one about the earth, about one’s self, and about how to stand still in who one is with their roots, yet grow and prosper no matter what storms are brought over them.