The drama of nature inspires a passion in even the most jaded city folks. Trees can rise up to awe-inspiring heights, spread their limbs, block the sky, and bring unknown tranquility to our hearts.
Each tree is an extensive community of inter-dependent lives. There are millions of creatures for whom the forest is home. Every day the sun rises over a spread as far as it can reach out. Birds chirp and frogs croak raucously. At night, bats and crickets chime in their racket. Fireflies, with lamps in their bellies, blink like neon bar signs. Through it all, the wind sings in the thick of the branches and rejoices with the song of the trees.
What could be more perfect than a forest? Graced with eye and soul-calming greenery, a forest of real trees, growing beautifully, is the perfect convergence of design, purpose, and beauty that evokes admiration at the infinite artistry of nature.
A lot of people generally regard a tree as merely a green living thing that stands in their way, or timber used for homes, furniture, and other man-made structures. Others who regard trees far beyond their commercial value and are more perceptive to their true worth beside the timber procured from them and their carbon offsetting function would be in awe at such extraordinary creation (or mournful when a tree is cut down the same way when one loses a good friend).
The place where I live has been home to three generations of families. It used to be swampland. The roads were short and people had to wade through water hyacinths to reach home. Every now and then “tilapia” and some mudfish would pop out of the offensive water to say hello. Some families took advantage of the living situation: they raised ducks and goldfish. That was a few years after World War II.
The land which was not submerged under the swamp can be had for P5 per square meter. No kidding. P5 per square meter. Postwar in a span of some 40 years, the place has not been spared from the reach of intense urban development. Gone are the “tilapia”, ducks, mudfish, and the goldfish pens, buried under concrete and three-story buildings, except for some indelible memories surviving only in yellowed photographs and grandfather tales.
My house stands right in front of a big residential house where there used to be a swarm of informal settlers. The family who lived in that big house planted the lot with several trees: chico, macopa, santol, langka, eucalyptus, duhat, and malunggay. For many summers, the trees bore fruit and children in the neighborhood and passersby had their fill of the sun-ripened yield.
That lot where the big house stood has now been dug up and bulldozed to make way for a four-story condominium building. The trees were mutilated – helpless, voiceless victims of man’s quest to outsmart Mother Nature.
Each tree forms a kinship group. It creates one of the strong spirits in any place. To feel and taste the wind rustling through the leaves … to smell their perfume … to watch them dance in the violent storms … to hear the call of the birds as a new day begins … to watch butterflies and bats flutter their wings.
Trees are not solely for our eyes or for our ears. Trees find their way inside us and get absorbed in our heart. Trees offer us intimations on how to love, how to co-exist with all creations, and how to understand what genuine optimism means.
It’s high time we enforce more stringent laws against wanton felling of a tree.
Photos by Diana Noche
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