When I was only four years old, I wrote my first verse. More like a Mother Goose rhyme, it goes like this:
Trees walk around like everything.
Even today, I wonder why I wrote that last line. Did I actually see the trees walk around? Whatever the case, this simple verse began my love of these wonderful beings.
Venice has its share of enchantingly diverse trees. One of my favorite trees is on the corner of Club House and Main Street. This large weeping ficus with its dangling moss stands on the northeast corner of Westminster Dog Park like one of the Watch Towers in a witch’s circle.
One afternoon, I decided to take photos of my friend. At close proximity, this tree has not only a decidedly masculine presence, but looks well-endowed. Considering that the Dog Park was once known as Hooker’s Hill, I found this both amusing and appropriate.
The current hypergentrification of Venice and neighboring cities not only strips away the character of Venice, but also many of its trees without any thought of the collective effect. On my own street, a huge, beautiful ficus on the southeast corner of Main Street and Horizon Avenue was cut down some time ago on a Sunday evening by some of Jason Teague’s people. Last Christmas, the trees of Oxford Lagoon were brutally cut down without any consideration of the nesting birds and butterflies still residing in them.
Trees shelter us, clean our air, prevent flooding, supply us with wood and food, inspire us, and provide haven and sustenance for many other beings. In spiritual stories, they play powerful roles. After all, Buddha was enlightened under a Bodhi Tree. In my own Celtic lineage, groves of trees are worshiped, with individual trees sometimes containing the spirit of a nymph. When the tree dies, the spirit dies, too. Indigenous peoples throughout the world treasure and revere trees, some calling them,
“Standing People.” And no wonder — the oldest living being is a Bristlecone Pine tree, 5,064 years old! What storms, earthquakes, and droughts this tree has witnessed! What strange, nightly magic s/he has been part of! What creatures s/he has known and nourished!
Do you have a favorite tree in Venice? The Beachhead Collective invites you to send in your photos and story of that tree. Together, we can sing tree praises! Together, we can create a community consciousness that seeks to protect and plant, rather than uproot and exile these ancient and generous beings.