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powerful trees, tiny humans

marian.bechtel's picture

I figured exploring the geology of the campus was kind of cheating for me, so I chose to read about and then explore some of the trees on campus. First of all, reading through parts of the Bryn Mawr tree guide was mind boggling. I knew we had many lovely trees here on campus, but I had no idea there was so much variety! I felt a strange mix of excitement and sadness when I realized this. Excitement because I love trees and I was so excited that there was so much to explore and that there was no way I could really inspect and appreciate every single tree on campus in my walk because that would take forever - meaning that even after this walk there are still so many trees to explore and touch and love! But then another thought struck me, following from the readings we did last week: I wondered how may native trees had to be cut down and moved to make way for these trees, because obviously they are not all native to this place. I certainly appreciate and love the trees that are here now, but it's the first time I've actually thought about what might have come before them and what might have happened to those earlier trees.

It was interesting after reading about the trees and building up all this excitement/emotion/pondering to then actually walk outside - I had almost forgotten for a second that it was the dead of winter and snowing. This of course made my brief tree tour quite different. In the guide, all the trees are shown in spring/summer, but now I was looking at them in the winter, naked and lifeless, but beautiful in the snow. Though I was almost sad about this at first, I grew in awe as I walked and began to go up to the trees and touch them because I realized how powerful, strong, and resilient trees like these are. They are stripped naked, beaten for months with harsh cold, cutting winds, pelting hail and snow, solar starvation, and air so dry it cracks the skin, and yet they endure and sure enough when it warms again, they jump right back into sprouting leaves and flowers and beauty like nothing happened, like they've always looked like they do in those pictures. That's pretty incredible. Thinking about this reminded me how truly small I am, and how truly small humans are. Trees have been here long before us, long before the dinosaurs who, let's face it, did a lot better than we did, and despite everything humans have done to hurt and destroy them, they're going to be the ones to survive in the end. In the long run, we'll be nothing but a very brief, insignificant (though painful) shadow of a memory to them. And in a weird way, despite how dark that all sounds, it makes me kind of happy. Such peaceful, kind, and powerful beings like these trees deserve to live on long long past us.