Lessons From the Mother Tree by Sara Wright

Picture of Sara Wright standing outside in nature

Last night I was reading Forest Scientist Susanne Simard’s new book “Finding the Mother Tree”. She was writing about how uncanny it was that her personal life has paralleled that of trees, the forests, the plants, the fungi, the mycorrhiza (underground networks), she has been studying for more than thirty years. This weaving of Nature’s ways through human lives has also been my life experience, although I am a naturalist and not a scientist. (I capitalize the word “nature” to accord her the Sovereignty that is missing because most humans see Nature as a “resource” to be used – not a Living Being). I take note of the fact that so many of these tree advocates are women.

I observe and listen to Nature by paying close attention to weather patterns, to flourishing or withering leaves, bowed or broken trees, to wind, to parched ground, to birds, to animals, to water, to fire, water, earth and air, and by being emotionally present to whatever is happening in my own backyard while scanning earth and sky for ‘signs’ of what’s to come. I receive the answers I need if not through a bird sighting, a porcupine, a clump of moss, a dying tree, then through dreams. For months now I have been threatened by the immanent loss of our forests by way of dreaming.

Of course, I am also physically assaulted on a daily basis by tree death. The demand for lumber is so high because hoards of people are building million dollar homes in this area. Add to this, people who slaughter the few trees they ‘own’ on half – acre plots for “good money”. The Mountains have been stripped.  Once lush tree lined highways have been widened; trees slashed and chipped up for bio – mass. On this property I have lost more of my forest to winter ice, freeze – thaw and spring winds than I have in almost 40 years. Every time the Northwest wind blows the remaining unprotected birches bend lower – some will fall in my front yard before autumn, and the road that used to be a cathedral of graceful arches bends dangerously low to the ground.

 I am aware that my dying forest dreams are not just about what’s happening here. They also involve the future of all Life, as we know it. Most people refuse to contemplate that an earth losing its trees to greed and overpopulation will eventually lead to an inability to breathe and the death of most sentient creatures and plants. Ecological Species Collapse and Climate Change seem abstract or non-existent to so many.

 Meanwhile, I am living through a grieving process so monumental that few can imagine. As the poet Rilke states, “ Now you must go out into your heart as onto a vast plain. Now the immense loneliness begins”. As the trees fall, the climate warms, the animals, birds, and waters disappear, I am losing the will to live.

shell

 As Susanne writes, “I was born to the wild. I come from the wild. I can’t tell if my blood is in the trees or if the trees are in my blood”. As far as I can tell I belong to the trees, the forest, clear water and rain, and drought has become the enemy stressing the trees who are already struggling, along with the whine of giant buncher machines (run by men) that will continue to strip the earth of its forests until they are gone.

Too many losses have emptied my life of meaning.

 Two weeks ago on the anniversary of the day I buried my brother’s ashes I was down by the brook visiting his spirit at Trillium rock. I was sitting on a little bench that my dad once fashioned reliving the day I brought my brother’s ashes home, gazing at the unfurling wild trillium I planted in the crevice to mark his gravesite by the brook. A spiraled ammonite eye is nestled in the overhang above. This is a place he would have loved because we spent our childhood in the woods playing in/around a streams and marshes. Davey’s spirit finally came to peace here as his favorite bird, the Red tailed hawk, watched over him.

Every year I re-imagine what it would have been like to spend my life with this little brother I so adored. Davey was more than a brother to me; he was the male counterpart of myself. When I lost my fleet footed brother I lost a self and an internal sense of personal power. I have never recovered either.

 Men with guns moved in instead.

For many years I searched for my brother in others, gravitating towards anyone who seemed to love some aspect of Nature. Some loved animals, others trees, wildflowers, bears, or some other aspect of the natural world but no one loved them all… not like he did. I no longer seek him in others, accepting the fact that my brother was unique, that we shaped each other’s lives as children/adolescents and that I lived on for both of us. I became a fierce defender of all Nature writing my way through my own hell. I will die this way.

After spending quiet time at Trillium Rock I started up the hill. Suddenly, I was possessed by such a horrifying thought that I thought it would unhinge me: I’m so glad Davey’s dead.  Living with the horrors of Biodiversity collapse and Climate Change would have killed this most sensitive of male souls, this son of the Great Mother, a young man who had no use for power. Finding home in Nature, he was Earth’s lover, content to be part of the whole. A man like this has no place in a culture that predicates itself on power, vengeance, violence and greed. As the truth sunk in I recalled the words he had written so very long ago. “My sister is the survivor”. He was right. Until now.

At this very moment few drops of drizzle splashed over my face, or perhaps they were tears.

Bio

Sara is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.



Categories: Eco-systems, Ecofeminism, Ecojustice, Nature, Women's Spirituality, Women's Voices

Tags: , ,

22 replies

  1. Interesting article..more of humanity are beginning to recognise Gaia as being the Earth’s living entity..this is a beautiful thing.
    Women are also aligning to their true heritage of healers , particularly the wonderful art of Shamanism.
    Thank you for sharing your his.
    In blessings &; love.GG💚😇

    Like

  2. Sara, I honor your pain and grief. I pray you find your will to live as the Earth needs her defenders. As I read your post, I thought of the song ‘Deep Down Inside of Me, I’ve Got a Fight Going On. Part of me wants to sing about life. Part of me wants to cry, cry, cry.’ Sending you love and support.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Sara, please hang around and keep writing for a while if not for yourself, for the rest of us. It is comforting to know others with your depth of love for all things natural on the planet. I am not a blogger, but I read what you write and weep when you weep. Thank you.
    Jan Rainier

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Dear Sara, like the others I hear and honor your pain and grief. I add my words of support for our need for you here at FAR and in the world at large. I have learned in my own life that when the meanings I have used to define myself no longer work, that becomes an opportunity to look find new pathways for myself.

    Your voice and your self are both so precious and special. I know you must have power because your voice is so powerful. Please keep writing and sharing. I am sharing your tears and sending love and support.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sara, I feel your pain as you write, “Too many losses have emptied my life of meaning.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sara, I too understand the great sadness you feel. However, I also believe we must practice great discipline in order to allow ourselves to focus on the beauty that remains and to do what we can to preserve as much beauty as we can. “Mother Nature” is in crisis, but she has not given up, nor should we, I hope this helps. Love.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Such a good point Carol – Nature has not given up – quite the opposite in fact – her resilience is coming to the fore as things get worse – I haven’t given up – I just need a safe place to express dark hopeless feelings, and you dear Carol and FAR have given me that gift.

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  7. Dear Sara, like the others, I join you in your grief and sorrow, both for your brother and for Nature and the trees. Your voice is strong and powerful and so needed in this world. People are listening to you and to all others who are the voice of the trees and our Natural World, and I have faith that regeneration will come. Blessings to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Sara, your beautifully written essay on Nature and trees left me in tears, I was so moved. Please do not give up just yet! Women of your wisdom are a boon to those who would learn from you and listen to what you have to say.

    Agree wholeheartedly about the significance of trees. In my short story, “Calling the Green Man,” the main character ended with, “Trees are the guardians of our world. When they vanish, so will we.”

    At the risk of being disingenuous, let’s contribute in any way we can to the planting of trees. Blessed be, my sisters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I have not given up – but there are days when I feel I have – and speaking this truth is important because it allows me to be with what is – honestly – feel it – and from that place gather energy to go on…. this is a hard time to be a naturalist like me….. as to the planting of trees – even in this drought I have planted nine new trees and have a bunch of baby spruce from Arbor day to still get in! Remember though, that little trees are putting CO2 into the atmosphere and it will be about 20 years before they become carbon neutral – we REALLY need to focus on saving the old trees NOW…because they are huge carbon sinks.

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  9. Sara, this is just such a beautiful piece of your writings, I can literally feel your compassion for trees and Mother Nature. May you be blessed with your ongoing talent of writing and your passionate voice. Many greetings from California, a lover of trees, who gets recharged by just sitting under a tree.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s splendid how you write with such strong feelings about nature, about how attached you are to our blessed mother planet. She is–and we are–fortunate that people like you are here to take care of her. Especially our trees!

    I’ve lived in urban and suburban neighborhoods all my life. I see birds. I see tamed and trimmed trees along the streets, people’s gardens, skimpy lawns. And I know where the nearest parks are. But I seldom actually visit nature. Which is why I’m glad to read your posts. I always learn something. Bright blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I share your pain and grief. I recently drove through Sonoma County, California, past hill after hill of forests destroyed by fire — many more, I’m almost certain, than the hills left intact. I know that experience of feeling physically assaulted.

    I also appreciated the replies of so many women who acknowledge this devastation, but who encourage us all not to give up.

    Liked by 1 person

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