Trees In Beauty, Time + Space
I grew up in the Caribbean and
never experienced autumn or snowfall until I was twenty-four years old, when I migrated to New York. There are two seasons in the islands of the Caribbean, the rainy season and the dry season. In Trinidad we look forward to the flowering
of the Poui tree
(Tabebuia serratifolia) from March to May, at the beginning of the dry season. We can see the explosion of yellow flowers in the distant hills and on the Northern Ranges and how they shower parked cars. Sometimes the trees will flower more than once, as blossoms are affected by rainfall. There is a saying among students at
UWI or the University of the West Indies, that if you did not know your sh...t
by the time the Poui
finished flowering, you are in serious trouble.
Here in the northeast US landscapes and trees define the passage of time in a very dramatic way. Fall color is awesome and leaves of honeylocust and tilia create cheerful litter on city streets while we adjust our wardrobes. It may be no big deal to many but is is quite extraordinary to me to witness the unclothing of trees until they stand there naked and vulnerable. Old, long-deserted nests are exposed and birds move on, into greener homes for the winter.
I do not love the cold but I cherish landscapes where the bare branches of deciduous trees create seemingly infinite layers and impenetrable screens with chartreuse hints from the vertical branches of weeping willows. Magical landscapes appear with the look of black and white photographs with washes of ocher, burnt sienna and umber in small patches. A favorite winter event is traveling by train or bus across states to view wetlands and other landscapes from or near bridges. Landscapes are particularly beautiful with the fluffy ocher seed heads of phragmites and masses of vertical stems of other grasses, creating soft drifts of color and etches against snow or dark land.
Then, just as I am weary from the endless winter, textured bark and the forms of trees appear more pronounced; buds take on wonderful tints and slowly morph from points and knobs into ruffles, fluffs, tassels and scales. Some burst into pink and white puffs. Amalenchier, Malus, Cherries and Cercis pop out of every corner. Leaves in various shades unfurl, robins are everywhere and another Spring is on the way. Before you know it the ground is carpeted in delicate loveliness.
A temporary kind of sadness always seeps in at this time. Beauty is fleeting. It is another Spring
and I am another year older. I remind myself that there is no point in wallowing on things I cannot control. I remind myself to roll with the weather, the seasons, with ageing, the changing landscapes, the good and bad of this stampeding world and life, and to cherish it all.