What appears to be one tree is actually several cottonwoods that have grown up together in that spot for more than twenty five years. I remember when they were no taller than I was as I took walks with my young children. They took a tremendous beating during the ice storm of 2002 (The Devastation, as Audra calls it) but have come back with great gusto and they are now, once again, tall and full of the rustlings that make the song of the Cottonwoods.
The other night I was walking down this road after dark, listening to the night sounds of insects in the tall grasses that grew in the ditches, I could see the towering silhouette of these trees against the faint glow of light pollution from the neighboring towns. There was no moon and few stars out for some reason, probably the haze created by many, many tractors working in dry, dusty fields for the last two weeks, readying the ground for wheat sowing. TBW was over east, joining in the great gathering that would fly up the coast under the sweet name of Irene. There was not even the slightest breeze as I walked and listened.
I was practicing being in the moment, breathing in the lavender scent of freshly cut Alfalfa, being aware of all that was the beginnings of the nighttime, not thinking, just being open to the Sacred when the trees began speaking. No, not words, they began a loud rustling just as I came close. The grasses in the ditches did not move and I felt no breeze upon my arms, but the Cottonwoods were singing; singing a big song.
Perhaps it was only wind at a higher level, perhaps it was more than that. It doesn't matter. I stopped to listen and remembered the pictures I had seen of tall trees and how deep into the earth their roots grow, as deep as the tree is tall and as broad. Because of those deep roots the tallest trees, and these are the tallest around here, have remained untouched by the drought this summer and last.
There I stood, near to something ten times my height and that deep as well, and I wondered about humanity and its hurry and scurry upon the crust of the earth. We have no roots to sink into the soil, we do not live long in terms of trees, mountains, oceans, stars (of course we do put the insects to shame in the category of life span....but not in numbers). Our roots are sunk into the sacred instead of the earth and from there we draw our greatest nourishment, our greatest gifts, those things which enrich our lives and the lives of others. In the case of humans, much like our cousins the trees, those who have the deepest roots continue to stand and sing even in times of trouble and drought. In fact it is times of drought and hardship which drive the trees, and us as well, to search deeper for strength and sustenance, for the water of life. Interesting. Nature is rife with illustrations of the sacred and lessons waiting to be learned.