Saturday, September 30, 2017

Randy's Sycamore...

In 2002, I traveled sixty years into the future. I was long dead by the time I arrived at my destination. That was fine, because my Platanus occidentalis was thriving!

When it was a stick held up by a stick, this sycamore was planted by my partner and me on a gentle slope of our side yard that shores along our acre of fairly dense maples, wild cherry, oak...and even Pawpaw patch. We bought the tree at a nursery over at the westside of Indianapolis after a tedious search online and disappointing phone calls. I wanted the tree, and badly. My partner, who loves trees as much as me; well, he didn't appear to care either way about planting a sycamore. We have plenty of trees. Do we really need another one?

Yet, sycamores are my favorite tree; albeit, not always. I can be quite the oak hugger when hypnotized by their majestic pose. Red, black, white, and hybrid galore; an oak will always carry the bluest of blood among trees. The Greeks associated the oak with Zeus. The Druids revered the oak so much that they were named after oaks: Duir.

And sometimes when feeling too contemporary in this political world, I long for the whimsical and find solace in the gnarled beauty of the Hawthorn tree. I have written about my Hawthorns before, and yes; those are my trees in the pics: Thorn and An October Mise-en-abyme. Hawthorn trees are survivors of their own mischief. Some species will grow where they shouldn't, wrapping their branches around trouble and get themselves tied up into worrisome situations. Yet, they survive and even blossom in whites and pinks, extending their bouquets from thorny, twisted limbs; their cockeyed grins skewed topsy-turvy, as if their house was meant to lean that way.

Hawthorns are truly curious with the life and the inanimate that share its space. Yet, the Sycamore is sentient only to itself.

Sycamores were far from exotic where I grew up, less than a mile from the Wabash River. However, with their brown-peeling-to-white trunks and incredible girth, and their enormous hand-like-leaves and curiously austere crown; sycamores always appeared..."exotic" to me. Especially when sycamores grew against the green canopy hillsides of the Wabash did these creatures stand out in spite of all the other trees of the forest; their presence in stark contrast as if on display by their own effervescence.

Effervescence, like spirits fastened within wood, planted on the Earth by a dimensional traveling Merlin frustrated by the commonality of this world; planted by a sorcerer to serve as the keeper of knowledge - the Epistemologist of the woodlands charged to live in their own thoughts and to contemplate the forest while knowing...knowing they are a cathedral unto themselves.

The sycamore, though among a community, does not seem to owe to its woodland inhabitants anything beyond a subtle commensalism. They take root where thirst and hunger are only minor concerns so it can think without interruption. Spirit Geniuses. Cathedrals unto themselves. Never will a sycamore submit to the dominion of the Oak; only the forest succumbs to the oak's hegemony. Never will a sycamore wander in curious blindness as the Hawthorn; circumstance is only the Hawthorn's intoxication. Sycamores; they submit only to knowledge.

Currently (well; recorded in 2015), the largest Sycamore in Indiana is in Johnson County. At 312.8 inches wide and 122 feet tall, that Johnson County tree is a couple of hundred years old and could possibly still be alive sixty years from now. My sycamore was not only alive in 2062, it was nearly 100 inches wide and 60 feet tall...or maybe just shy of 60 feet. I was elated! Yes, I was also dead. Yet, my Platanus occidentalis, deep in thought, glanced down at me, perhaps distracted by the flash of my sudden arrival or the warm hand touching its white bones. And then the sycamore closed its eyes and returned to its internal odyssey, for a shaded portion of a moss-covered glacial drift near the northeast edge of the forest appears to have naturally undergone the Carnot cycle with exposed uranium and a lichen community of cyanobacteria. My sycamore wanted proof and also to ascertain its impact on the meaning of existence in an otherwise entropic universe.

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