The Secret Language of Trees
The creativity gene passed me by. So did most (all?) of the essential abilities and skills required for success at the Arts. And being described as ‘artisan’, ‘inventive’ or ‘patient’ is about as likely as me ever winning the Archibald Prize.
So back in the dark ages when I picked up my first (film) camera and peered through the viewfinder, I had an epiphany. I could actually see things through it I’d never noticed without it.
I’d found a portal into the secret world of … well, whatever I was looking at. Without it, the world was flat and ever-so-slightly dull. But through the lens, colours seemed brighter, patterns appeared, and details became endlessly fascinating.
And the magic of the minutiae came zinging down the lens like a coded message glimmering through the mirage that separates me from that other world.
Sometimes so close I can almost understand it.
Or at least attempt to catch it.
The urge to explore the language of that secret world – where nothing speaks more strongly than the trees – casts a spell so compelling I spend hours trying to capture it. And for one brief moment I can channel what it is to be a true artist.
And when the trees speak their secret language in the shimmering sunlit swirls of melaleuca reflections in a tannin-stained lake, time passes too quickly before the moment is gone forever.
The interior tells of times gone by too in the red rings of age, the cracks of weathering and a record of the blades that saw this monster fall.
And on the surface, the bark and its startling abstractions of texture, colour and pattern. Are any two the same? Who knew the native Australian Eucalypt is the only genus in the world with species representing all regions and habitats from sea level to the snow line?
Above, a leafy canopy throws a filter over the sky, rendering the harsh sun bearable through its colours and patterns. And the tree’s secret language translates the play of light into a message of comfort and peace.
The trees, with their movement, their life and their magic, surround a wind-rippled pool and turn its darkened depths into a scene of such perfect abstraction I’d never have had the imagination or patience to paint.
Limbs bleached by the sun and weathered by rain radiate from the trunk of a tree, hugging the earth where it fell. Am I the only one to see its dramatic design in this lifetime? Its remnants will still mark the land once I too am dust.
No, age is no barrier to the language of trees. Weathered and worn, and now giving life to other living things as they sink into the oblivion of the Aussie bush, their colours now muted as they blend with the forest floor.
A strangler fig grows large as the tree it grasps grows weak in the brutal cycle of the natural world where each has a role in creating that dynamic collective of flora and fauna we call the rainforest.
And even where the trees don’t grow, they influence the landscape as their image flickers over forest streams, throws a backdrop for the birds and ripples round the river banks creating the glorious watercolours of the Aussie bush.
Then the trees speak again in the random structures of their fallout. How would that bushland look without the attractive asymmetry of random trunks, the enigma of interwoven branches, the harmony in the patterns they create?
A sensation of colour marks the entrance of spring.
And against that blue BLUE Aussie sky, the trees speak of growth, of survival, of life.
I may never fully decipher the secret language of the trees. But what I see through my lens is a glimpse of its meaning.
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