Our human enchantment with trees shows itself everywhere in literature. Joyce Kilmer waxed poetically about them as did Robert Frost. The magic in Shakespeare’s plays usually takes place in the forest as they do in children’s fairytales. I, too, have written about them in these blogs. After my recuperation from my hip surgeries in 2008, I recall that on the first day of my return to the park, I hugged the first tree that greeted me.
Still, imagine my surprise when, during one of my recent outings in the park, I came upon the International Tree Climbing Competition. Two hundred people were milling around with their chins pointed skyward, cheering the competitors as they swung through the branches overhead. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and the applause was hearty as each competitor rappelled to the ground.
To be honest, I’ve never equated tress with the idea of competition. Trees are stoic giants that accept changes in the season without complaint and remain silent even if some dog pauses beneath their shadows to do its business. Trees are about as far removed from the notion of competition as I can imagine. And yet, seeing that their existence had provoked an international competition, I reconsidered my opinion. Looking at the thick shade beneath the evergreens, the land is bare. Not a single weed intrudes. Shade is a tree’s way of proclaiming its turf, a form of competition, I suppose.
Charles Darwin noted that the whole of nature is a struggle to survive. Why should trees be an exception? I‘ve long admired their grace and beauty and love the way they sigh in the wind, or shelter the animals and humans from the rain. But I’ve overlooked their tenacity.
I wonder what they think, these park trees with people swinging like ornaments from their branches. Perhaps they imagine the intermittent burst of applause is for them. I tend to think it should be.
(Courtesy of www.sodahead.com)