Sunday, December 05, 2010

Trees in the mist

I think one of the few things I truly miss in the arctic are trees. Growing up in a part of the world where trees put on the kind of show in the fall that you'd never forget your lifetime through, having enjoyed it only once.   The cool respite from the humidity and heat in the summer another gift of the shade provided by these stoic giants of the plant kingdom. Its also the sound of leaves rustling - if you listen long enough you become sensitive to their warnings of coming rain storms.  In the fall the smell of leaves decaying - the musty muzzy forest smell with a sweet tang of recycling and life - is uplifting and comforting, even in drifts of dead leaves and dying plants grasping the last rays of sun to store in their roots for the winter - readying for the short burst of warmth and light only found in the spring before the trees leaf out again. Maybe its the multidimensional layers of life with aerobatic squirrels chattering at anything in field of view and birds singing a melody to counterpoint the hush of the wind and the purcussive sounds of branches rubbing or smacking against each other in a stiffer breeze.

 I don't want to downplay the charms of the arctic - the wind here has a song that has a minor key intensity as it howls ferociously over the hissing of snow grains blowing over drifts and grinding against the siding on buildings. There is the deep hum of skidoo engines and the high squeak to low crunch of snow (temperature depending) and the entertaining if somewhat tone death croaking of Ravens and the clicking of caribou ligaments. I miss these things too when I'm not here. Still quite a few of those memorable moments where I felt truly connected to life and the world, I've usually found myself either walking through the woods or sitting on a cliff admiring the pattern of colours in the trees below or occasionally watching the sunset from the windswept grasses of the tundra or admiring the tiny plants huddled on the lea side of a hummock. I guess you can love both and still miss trees independently especially their graceful silhouettes in the slowly rising morning fog.
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