Without the complex distraction of green leafy layers, the physical facts of the trunks of trees attract my eye in winter. They stand, resolute, tall, expressing in their patterns their species and their individual history. A large sugar maple is embraced by a plastic tube, ready to collect sap in the spring, and wrapped by old barbed wire, long since overwhelmed by the sturdy growth of bark.
Some trees have their inner layers exposed in an animal's search for sustenance.
And some have patterns that might be created by disease.
The natural peeling of birch bark catches the sun in shiny curlicues, smooth and glossy alongside rough striations.
A close look at some tree trunks is like a satellite view of a vast landscape, with mountain ranges sinking into valleys.
Yesterday, when I walked through the woods, I had a sudden rush of tender feeling for the grays of winter trees; as I passed them, their spacial relationships changed, yet each remained itself, young or old, thick or thin, damaged or whole: a crowd of life, dormant. Today I was dipping in Thoreau's Journals and found this entry from January 11th, 1857, in which he eloquently describes his reasons for rambling, which touch a chord with me, (although I don't subscribe to his tendency to belittle his fellow men):
I was describing the other day my success in solitary and distant woodland walking outside the town. I do not go there to get my dinner, but to get that sustenance which dinners only preserve me to enjoy, without which dinners are a vain repetition. but how little men can help me in this! only by having a kindred experience. Of what use to tell them of my happiness?