For forty-eight years we have lived on the same hill in the town of Caroline, surrounded by acres of trees including, maple, ash, cherry, and pine. Some of the woods have been forested wisely and some are drifting through years of benign neglect.
Recently I have started paying attention to individual trees—some still alive, some dead, and some only stumps. Shapes, textures, curves, and faces have popped into view on the same trees I have passed by for years.
Each tree has a story. I’m fortunate to have the chance to imagine what that story might be. I try to find the best angle and best light to make the picture I see in my mind. The tree is quiet and doesn’t have human wishes to just get on with it. If I’m unhappy with the picture I take on one day, I come back and try again. After returning to the same spot many times, a sense of place begins to grow. I settle in to wait for best light and just be there.
Most mornings I sit at home for twenty minutes to practice thinking of nothing. Just sit—no thoughts. When thoughts arise, let them go. My morning expeditions into the woods, the time of best light, were interfering with my practice until one day, after the light became too bright, I simply stopped. For twenty minutes I rested on a log—eyes closed, empty mind. Trees communicate without words. Slow down, listen to the trees and the creatures that call them home. For me, peace settles in that place, even during a year when so much trouble surrounds us all.