Of Trees

“Some humans have special relationships with trees.”

I’m thinking here not of the professional foresters, nor the academic dendrologists and definitely not them fallers.. but the gentler folk. persons neither scientific nor pragmatic, whose encounters with trees tend to be more intimate, spontaneous and marked altogether by a completely different level of sensitivity and (maybe even mutual) appreciation.

people like these, can gaze for hours at an individual tree and perceive a real living creature conducting its own mortal business, marveling in the abundance of life within its bodice, appreciating and wondering how long it has lived and what it has seen. at least i do.

it’s not as easy as it sounds. genuine tree people are not common, or at least, they don’t seem to be.

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy in the eyes of others is only a green thing which stands in the way” – William Blake.

this quote is stark, especially in the context of singapore.

i think most singaporeans fail to realise just how special each and every one of our trees are. they occur at frequencies along roadsides, buidlings etc so high that while one may think that it should be a good thing, the sad fact is that we see these trees so often we no longer see them as individuals, not even as trees, but just as part of the background, that seem to always be there.

it takes foreigners (why’s it always seem that way) to come down and enlighten us to our own ecological wealth. in them temperate countries, them coniferous and deciduous forests, the same species of tree could occur in groves for miles and miles, but here in tropical SEA our forests are an amalgamation of so many different species of plants that a single specimen may be chanced upon once and not be encountered again for hundreds of meters. we have so much life it’s a taxonomist’s nightmare, supposedly historically driving some western scientists insane with the sheer abundance of life that they’re not used to.

such is the sheer power of life in its diversity, which we have often taken for granted.

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