Monday, April 25, 2005

Mabel's Tree

This tree grows a few feet away from my home away from home in Taos, New Mexico. The fog behind its branches is, in fact, the Sangre de Cristos Mountains. This is a winter picture--stark and grey in black and white. According to a dear old professor of mine, all trees demonstrate definitive "handedness" depending upon their shape. When I showed him this photo I crowed, "Ha! This tree seems well-balanced. There is no handedness here!" He adjusted his glasses across the bridge of his nose and frowned slightly. "My dear," he murmured, "What you have here is clearly a right-handed tree. Note how the far right cluster of branches is thicker. That would be the thumb. The limb on the far right is as delicate as a pinky finger. Definitely a right-handed specimen." He smiled then as my mouth hung open...just another student of life put firmly in place by a master.
I am not fully aware of the significance of "handedness" in trees. But when he initially proclaimed this as fact, I floundered, wondering if I was missing some deeper literary or philosophical meaning. Before graduate school, I would likely have just accepted the statement as new information, recording it diligently in my wire-bound notebook like a "good little girl". Now, I doubt everything. I travel thousands of miles from home to attend writing conferences and instead find myself haunting the streets with my camera--just to prove a point.
I'm still rattling my chains, still running my eyes across flaking-bark trunks, still searching out a tree with no hands...


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