I love the inversions that occur in climbing the tree—such as being up in the branches and watching a bird on the ground below me that has no idea it is being observed from above.
Another is putting up a Christmas tree. To have a tree inside our house for a month—and me spending lots of time out in a tree—is kind of a hoot. Every time I come into the house from being in the tree and encounter another one in our living room, I get a little burst of delight, the kind that comes from a sudden and unexpected cognitive shift.
Like a category mistake, but a good one. I’ve traded places for a little while with a tree. I’m out trunking and branching and sky-rising in the frigid twilight, and it’s inside sipping a little well-water, enjoying the warmth and the light. Practically putting its feet up and having a cup of tea. Its branches thronging with ornaments and lights, my head ornamented with snow and darkness.
So it is with multiple layers of regret that I take the tree down, returning ornaments to boxes, unstringing lights, and dragging it out to rest on our deck beneath a bird feeder, providing another sheltered access point to sunflower seeds for the local birds.
But having a tree in our home for a little while also gets me thinking about the inversion more metaphorically. It is not just that I am in the tree and there is a tree in our house. I am in the tree and there is a tree in me. Figuratively speaking. It can’t not be. I have been up there so many times, experienced the world from that point of view so often, observed the tree in so many seasons and weathers. And it gets fed and watered, grows a little, gets another dose of psychic chlorophyll, every time I go out to climb.
I like to think of this tree that grows inside me when I take it with me up among the branches of the tree out there at the edge of the woods. The two of them resonating, calling out to one another across the threshold of me.
And unlike our Christmas tree, this tree doesn’t have to be taken down—at least until I am.
On the other hand, our Christmas tree gets to throng with chickadees. I can’t imagine a better way to go.