Friday, March 01, 2024

Friday Ramble - Written in the Trees

Paper birch, also called White birch and Canoe birch
(Betula papyrifera)

Here we are on the cusp between winter and springtime, weary of ice and snowdrifts, craving light and warmth. It is still below freezing much of the time, an icy wind 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, and after making a brief appearance, she sometimes disappears for days and weeks at a time, fickle lass that she is.  After several days of milder weather, dwindling snowdrifts and happy pottering, temperatures plummeted yesterday, and there was a bitter north wind, but the sky was blue, and there was sunshine. Winter (alas) is not over yet.

For all the seasonal toing and froing, late winter days in the woods have a wonderful way of quieting one's thoughts and breathing patterns, bringing her back to a still and reflective space in the heart of the living world.

I sat on a log in the woods a few days ago, watching as tattered scraps of birch bark fluttered back and forth in the north wind. The lines etched in the tree's parchment were words written in a language I could almost understand when my breath slowed and my mind became still. When the morning sun slipped out from behind the clouds, rays of sunlight passed through the blowing strands 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.

Happy March, everyone! 

1 comment: said...

A beautiful evocative piece, Cate, and as usual your use of language. "puckish wight" leads me to the dictionary to learn more. Such a bringer of small treasures you are. I have a betula nigra in the front of my little house which unfortunately was planted in the wrong place. It is fast growing and huge with several trunks and impinges too closely to the walkway and roof. But it's here to stay and I do love the curls of bark. I love your description of putting a piece of the parchment in a pocket of your park and inhaling the fragrance on your way home.
Happy March!