December 4 garden 015

There is a special beauty in the form and structure of a bare tree after it has dropped its annual crop of leaves.  Like the beauty of a classical statue, one can see the truth of its bones.  Leaves, for all of their movement and color, veil the beauty of branches and buds.

Looking at a bare tree is a study in pure potential. 

Sycamore with seed pods

Sycamore with seed pods

All of the life drawn inwards to the wood and roots as it prepares itself to weather another season of freezing cold and winter storms.  It has strengthened itself without becoming brittle.  It has released its sheaf of ice and snow catching leaves which would weight it and break it in winter’s icy winds.

Isn’t it ironic that as we add layer upon woolen and fleecy layer to weather winter’s worst days, the trees are shedding their summer garb to survive the months ahead?December 5 2013 DOG St 060  Left to themselves, the leaves gather and drift into brown and crinkled blankets, insulating and nourishing their own roots.

And those roots hold the life of the tree and promise of another spring.  No matter if branches break or get pruned.  Life will flow again in the rising sap to grow back and grow more than ever before.  The buds of new life are forming even during the seeming sleep of winter.  Look closely, and you’ll see those buds swelling on every twig.

Dogwood covered in buds for spring's flowers.

Dogwood covered in buds for spring’s flowers.

Now we return to the season of lacy silhouette, drawn against the ever changing skies.  Perfect algorithms of division and multiplication reveal themselves.  Each family of tree revealing its own peculiar geometry and idiosyncratic proofs and promise of the coming season’s growth.

Seed pods, nuts, fruits, and cones still clinging to twigs guard the seeds of another generation in wait; suspended between autumn and spring; each containing the entire blueprint of the whole encrypted in microscopic perfection.

Like Jonah, many must first be swallowed into the belly of a beast before seeing light, again, and a chance for germination.December 5 2013 DOG St 070

Those  who know Pirsig understand this blurring of science and art; philosophy and living technology.

The world is not one or another.  It is all.  Only in sensing the all do we begin to understand its poetry of perfection.

This is a tale to unravel in winter, when all is revealed to those who look with wonder and understanding.dec 2 2013 parkway 021

-Woodland Gnome

The world comes to us in an endless stream of puzzle pieces that we would like to think all fit together somehow, but that in fact never do.”

Robert M. Pirsig

“The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha – which is to demean oneself.”

Robert M. Pirsig


All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

November 30 Parkway 021

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

7 responses to “Bare

  1. Pingback: A Handful of Sand | shunyata

  2. Forest So Green

    I like to look at the tree branches. Each one so simple and unique, Annie

    • Hi Annie. They are such a beautiful surprise each winter- always different after the season’s growth. Thank you for stopping by Forest Garden today. Hope you are warm and well. More snow for you? WG

  3. Beautiful series of images and prose to go with it. I love to ponder the shapes and bones of the trees in winter. 🙂

    • And you have such a perfect spot from which to gaze and ponder 😉 We just got in from more photos along the water here. We caught a mature bald eagle perched on top of a dead tree like a totem on a pole. Thank you for the kind words, Robin. Hope you’re warm and well. WG ‘-)

  4. Thank you for the lovely images and prose. Very inspirational.

We always appreciate your comments. Thank you for adding your insight to the conversation.

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