Hemlock Piercing

Imagining a New Story

This submerged hemlock skeleton spent many years under water protected by resins and tannins that kept the wood intact, smoothing her edges, deepening grooves and portals allowing churning waters and storm surges to shape her- How old are you I ask? But the dead don’t speak.

When I first brought the wooden sculpture to camp dredging it up from the bottom of a pond at midsummer (July 31- Mid -summer Turning) it made me uncomfortable although the shape intrigued me – such curves – an oval opening where a limb once reached for the sun….odd breast – like protrusions. This piece of driftwood seemed to hold a message I did not want to hear… 

Since then I have watched and waited patiently for meaning to emerge and when I finally wrote “Hemlock Piercing” last week reluctant insights seeped in – this was the other side of the hemlocks I adored. The first spoke to me of Life, 800 years strong ‘ the redwood of the east’ not yet taken down by logging or insect infestation… I hoped that in depth research would support my fierce hope that this glorious ‘foundation tree’ will live on despite logging, a warming climate and insect invasion. But Harvard scientists/ecologists are saying the hemlocks will not be able to make the transition… insects and climate change will one day have their way…This tree survived the last glacial period, and a steep decline 5000 years ago rebounding up until recently because loggers had little use for her. Today these magnificent trees are uprooted with all the rest, and ground up for pulp for paper, and mulch for gardens. Trucked everywhere, the insect that is destroying the hemlocks lives on in the mulch ready to attack more hemlocks. Perhaps hemlock patterns and proteins will resurrect this mighty tree once again, or slow her dying in places where s/he still lives intact with a forest that supports her. But I do not know. All but 2 percent of our mighty old growth forests are gone destroying the context for tree survival. One tree does not a forest make.

Regardless, Hemlock Piercing reminds me that my heart must be open to whatever lies ahead. 

 Fallen leaves and bare trees remind me that it is the end of nature’s cyclic year in the north. The bones of the mountain, granite stones and ledges have appeared in the last week and soon snow (or more likely ice) will cover us all in white…at this time I acknowledge how difficult this year has been, the precious time, writing, money that I have lost. I try hard to understand and accept what keeps me chained to grief.

 Is the ‘eye’ of the wood speaking to me? The bones of this dead hemlock, submerged for so long may reflect death and the emptiness that has bored a hole through me… But I also imagine this airy space left by a dead limb as a possible way through…PS without imagination there is no possibility of writing a new story…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s