Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Birch Mother in the Wind

Paper birch (Betula papyrifera)
also called white birch or canoe birch
Here we are on the cusp between winter and springtime, weary of ice and snowdrifts, craving light and warmth.  There is still a lot of snow about, and nights are cold, icy winds scouring the bare trees and making the branches ring like old iron bells.  Perhaps that is to be expected, for springtime is a puckish wight this far north. After appearing, she sometimes disappears for days at a time.

For all that, March days have a wonderful way of quieting one's thoughts and breathing rhythms, bringing her back to a still and reflective space in the heart of the living world. The earth is haggard and tattered, but she takes us in and holds us close, shelters us, soothes and comforts us.

I sat on a log in the woods a few days ago, watching as scraps of birch bark fluttered back and forth in the north wind. When my breath slowed and my mind became still, the lines etched in the tree's paper were words written in a language I could almost understand. When the morning sun slipped out from behind the clouds, rays of sunlight passed through the blowing endments and turned them golden and translucent, for all the world like elemental stained glass.

When I touched the old tree in greeting, my fingers came away with a dry springtime sweetness on them that lingered for hours. I tucked a thin folio of bark in the pocket of my parka and inhaled its fragrance all the way home.


christinalfrutiger said...

They ae one of my favorite trees. I call them White Ladies of the Forest...

christinalfrutiger said...