I mostly visit my tree in the morning. I’m not even sure what it looks like in the afternoon. I pretty much avoid the park late in the day unless it’s summer. Then, a long walk at dusk is the perfect thing to do. I never visit it in the afternoon—I’m not sure why not. The tree has a darker presence in the evening, a foreboding and looming shape at dusk. In the morning it stands tall and regal, casting a deep shadow onto the path where I pass by it. The halo formed by the low, morning sun lifts the tree upward, making it seem taller and more substantial.
Lately I’ve been walking around the tree, trying to discover something I might have missed. I remember hearing the great photographer, Jay Maisel, once say that one needs to approach a subject from a 360-degree perspective. “Move your ass,” I believe he said. So yesterday I went right up to the tree and spent some quality time with it. To be honest, I didn’t find anything new. There was no epiphany, just a quiet, deepening understanding of it. I did realize, once again, how much the scar on the tree meant to me. It’s where the tree lost a big limb during a winter storm a few years ago. So, I focused on that for a bit, photographing it until I got bored and needed to move my, er, ass.
The bark of the eucalyptus is its most appealing attribute. One can stare at it for hours, finding new color and shape that changes with the quality of light. Moving in, towards the tree, the bark’s abstractions dance and play with the imagination. The bark seems in constant motion, tearing itself free from the trunk and flinging itself to the ground—a pagan earth dance. The bark is so very smooth after its outer layer has been shed.
I’ve decided that I want to be with the tree during a storm. It is then that the bark flies off it with a fury. I’ve only seen the aftermath, the piles of bark shreds that litter the park lawn after the storm has passed. The forecast is calling for rain tonight. I can see the trees outside my window sway with the incoming wind. Tomorrow I shall bundle up and venture forth to the tree in the wind and rain and see what it has to offer. Stay tuned.