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  • Writer's pictureBrook Bond

A Wintry Morning Audience With 001837 - Nature Writing

Wow, it's been a while, hasn't it? I've been rather busy with uni as of late, and a lot of my writing energy has been put towards my coursework, so I haven't had a whole lot to upload.

This is a short exercise that I wrote in one of my classes. I didn't like it when I wrote it a couple of months ago, but I'm keener on it now after giving myself a bit of space from it and then re-visiting it for some editing tweaks.

001837 is a tree on my university campus. I'm not sure what kind of tree they are, but I pass them on my way to class on most days. A few days ago I had to lean against their trunk so I could adjust a pair of boots that keep giving me blisters, and I hope they forgive me for my rudeness.


Their name, in as much as such a thing matters to a tree, was apparently 001837. It was written in a stern, square typeface on a little plastic tag attached to a nail that pierced their bark. Well, I suppose for them it's just an irritation, hammered thoughtlessly into their body and left there like a splinter. A way to distinguish them from the many others of their kind that inhabit these grounds. To box them in as a definite something. How foolish of us to burden them with such a thing. To try to separate them from the great gestalt of talking roots below the soil, and the taste of liquid words the likes of which kingdom Animalia will never know. Not a thing with a name like a prisoner's number to be observed and consumed and set apart, but one part of a whole, engaged in the great chemical congress of kingdom Plantae that has raged on unseen for untold eons. Not a number to be written on a tag and then squirrelled away on a spreadsheet somewhere, but a person of wood and secrets.

They had a trunk like a great stocky wrist, branching out into three wooden fingers and a great gnarled thumb. Their palm was a cradle, nurturing soft mosses from the brisk breeze of the winter morning. A crown of their bare, spidery branches stretched high into the air, providing a place for birds to sit and rest.

In summer I bet their leafy canopy is formidable, but now it sits decaying on the ground all around them. I suppose to us it looks like they are balding, but to them, it’s just another season in the endless wheel of years. Our technological indulgences mean that we don’t know what winter means anymore. We have no concept of bending so we don’t break, and the change of shape and colour that comes from accepting the world instead of fighting against it. Perhaps our unwillingness to bend gracefully to the world’s needs will be our undoing. Perhaps the trees know this, and they all whet their appetites with the thought of drinking us in when the human paradigm breathes its last.

Though we may not always appreciate it, we are earthlings, both of us. We are kin as neighbours, of course. Inhabitants of the same ecosystem. But we are also family; the prodigious progeny of the Last Universal Cellular Ancestor who lived and died when the earth was still young.

So, on that wintry morning, 001837 met their very distant cousin; estranged by language, morphology, and four billion years of evolutionary divergence. I cannot know what they thought of me, or even if my hands on their rough bark made any great impression, but I think I understand them better now.

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