curving to the sky
fretworks of leaves
roughness of bark
against my cheek
holdfasts to the land
I love them
The road to Jerusalem winds with the curves of the river, around clay cliffs and through pine forests. Sunlight filters through tenacious trees, sometimes lighting up a leaf, outlining a rock. The peace is palpable, floating down from distant hilltops.
I leave the car and wander the river bank, search for fossils in the cliffs. No sounds except birdsong and the occasional bleating of sheep. Seed-heads are already forming on the wild parsley, and where the sun is warmest, the scent of gorse flowers.
above the leaning cliffs
(for D’verse haibun Monday)
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. Deuteronomy.
These are the large, unripe drupes of the New Zealand Karaka tree (Corynocarpus laevigatus). They are coloured orange when ripe. Several bird species feed on ripe Karaka fruits – among them the Silvereye, Myna, Starling, House Sparrow and the Blackbird. The only birds that swallow a whole fruit are the New Zealand Pigeons (Kereru), and they are well-known dispersers of the seeds. Blackbirds may also disperse the seeds by carrying the fruit further off from the tree.
But be warned, the fruit is extremely toxic to both humans and dogs, and must on no account be eaten. Maori state that the pulpy part of the fruit is edible, though bitter, but the seed highly poisonous unless carefully prepared by cooking and soaking. Early cases of poisoning by eating Karaka were not uncommon.
The beauty of trees never fails to fascinate me…
…but Joyce Kilmer has put it so much better than I could:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.