Reading List

Wise Trees

Reverence and wonder are two of my favorite states of being. Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, in their gorgeous Wise Trees, elicit both conditions in their textual and photographic portraits of 50 trees around the world which/who are remarkable, not just for their own character and physical development over the years, but for the ways in which we humans have attached meaning to them. Some of the trees are hundreds, thousands, even more than ten thousand years old (have you met Pando?), both witnesses to and sentinels of a changing Earth. As Walt Whitman (1819-1892), said, in his Specimen Days, after walking in the woods: “In the revealings of such light, such exceptional hour, such mood, one does not wonder at the old story fables (indeed, why fables?) of people falling into love-sickness with trees, seiz’d extatic [sic] with the mystic realism of the resistless silent strength in them—strength, which after all is perhaps the last, completest, highest beauty.”