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May 16, 2023

"Some trees are compasses, and some are flags. If a flag tells you where you are, a compass can potentially tell you how to get there or how to find someplace else." --Carl Phillips

Among the Trees

"Ive had a love of trees all my life. Throughout high school, I lived in a house in the woods in Massachusetts, and even on the darker mornings of winter what kept me from being frightened was the trees themselvesmostly scrub pines, as we called them there, with struggling oaks scattered among them. Unlike the kids at school, the trees remained silent as I passed, and I took this as a sign of acceptance. Irrational, surebut in my feeling so unlike everyone else at school, in my confused wrestling with what I felt was real but I couldnt name precisely, why not take silence for acceptance? Among the trees loneliness could be itself, in the openso could strangenesseven as both remained hidden from the rest of the world for the time it took me to pass through the woods to the bus stop. As I walked, Id sing to the trees, loudly at first, then more and more softly the closer I got to where the woods gave out, until all I could hear was whatever wind there was through the leaves and needles. A sound like the trees unable to sing back, but trying to."In this extended meditation on the relationship between place and intimacy, the body and the word, Carl Phillips walks among trees to explore what can and cannot be known.


For more inspiration, check out this essay by David George Haskell, "Eleven Ways of Smelling a Tree." More ...