Welcome to the Malcolm’s Round Table edition for the Sleigh Bells and Inkwells Blog Hop
DREAMS, INSPIRATIONS AND TREES
“When you enter a grove peopled with ancient trees, higher than the ordinary, and shutting out the sky with their thickly inter-twined branches, do not the stately shadows of the wood, the stillness of the place, and the awful gloom of this doomed cavern then strike you with the presence of a deity?” – Seneca
I love forests, especially coniferous forests.
Two of my earliest memories of forests are polar opposites. I saw the towering redwoods of Muir Woods and rode through an Oregon forest fire before I was in the first grade. Forest imprinting, I think: those early moments when I first experienced the beauty and wisdom of trees as well as the pain of their destruction.
The blue-grey aura of a tree is larger than the tree.
When one walks through a forest, s/he cannot help but touch the overlapping souls of the redwoods, firs or cedars gathered there. When I stop by the woods on a snowy evening or come to myself in a dark wood, I think of John Muir saying that “I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
In a forest, I am within the spirits of the trees and within myself. At Yule, the ancient traditions bring the deity into the house with the greenery, creating a sanctuary of scents and spirits around the decorated tree, the boughs lying along the mantel, the wreaths greeting and guarding at doorways and the holly in the center of the table. As a child sneaking through the darkened living room on Christmas Eve, I strongly felt the watchful presence of the blue spruce waiting for the happy morning. I still do.
As I wondered what I should write for a Sleigh Bells and Inkwells post, trees came to mind as the perfect subject. I wasn’t surprised. Trees have always found a way to live in my writing.
The cast of characters in my novels isn’t limited to the two-legged creatures—Gem, Robert, David, Siobhan—who walk between the pages. My favorite trees have made sure they also had roles to play. The Sun Singer features spruce, whitebark pine and a grandfather oak. Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey contains multiple worlds of cottonwood, boxelder, lodgepole pine, cypress and rowan. Sarabande includes cottonwood and a limber pine next to the River of Sky. My love of trees fills my stories, even in the action sequences such as this one in “Sarabande:”
For 43 years, one book has always remained accessible on the bookshelves in all the towns I’ve lived in since it was published: Tallahassee, Syracuse, San Francisco, Waukegan, Zion (IL), Indianapolis, Rome (GA), Smyrna (GA), Marietta (GA), Norcross (GA), Jefferson (GA), and it is simply called Trees. Andreas Feinniger’s cover photograph reminds me that even though the aura of a “dead” tree is mostly gone, the tree remains wise, and bids those who come and go to sit and lean against its old trunk and listen.
When I find myself in the presence of redwoods on a foggy morning, subalpine fir around a lake on a sunny high country afternoon, or a snowy woods that are, as Robert Frost wrote, “lovely, dark and deep,” I am always called to stay even though I, too, still have promises to keep on my writer’s journey.
Thank you for stopping by my figurative forest today. Now, to continue your festive blog hop journey, click here to visit author T. K. Thorne.