by Geoffrey Navias
Walking. Pausing to let the music of my feet cruncheting through the fallen leaves disappear. Pausing, the quiet fills with wind, and the song of bird, dazzling, reaches me, shifting in with flecked sun light. And slowly the hum of all things living filtered through the woods, of breaking branches, of the creek, of route 13, of leaves falling, of tiny insects with laudable voices living in the leaf cover and decaying fallen forest floor. I want to see. I want to see what is up ahead in that opening of sunlight and color. But for now, pausing to take in the culmination of time. Years untold, where the world and I pause. We reach this moment. The forest and I celebrate in the preparation for winter. Onward.
The isolation of these times has invited me to spend more time walking in the woods. New and old paths. I wander, humming to the trees, specific trees.
Seven years ago, I started a project initiated by a specific white pine tree which had been knocked down by one of our then unusual climate storms. I milled the wood, dried it for two years, all the while wondering what to make of this great tree. Upon occasion, I would visit where the tree had stood. What of the people, animals, and forest lives that gathered here under the auspices of this tree?
This has started me on a process of working with local trees, felled in climate storms, re-imagining them as sacred vessels. Thus far I’ve done three series, one of White Pine, Butternut, and Cherry. The vessels invite one to put something precious within…symbolic and/or real. What is precious to you?
I have increasingly valued my sense of the tree; rooted, interwoven, holding down and together the earth.
Where I take delight, my music, sitting across from me, the guitar, banjo, and my mother’s baby grand piano are wood from trees which grew for years in specific places.
As I write this, I am sitting on rather old trees which were fashioned into a chair inherited from my grandfather; sitting at trees made into a desk; I am living in hundreds of very old trees which were built into a tavern 224 years ago during the last year of George Washington Presidency.
I am spending more time listening to the trees, wondering, 224 years from now, what they will have to tell us?