All tree bark grows with the tree, like skin. Its hard to tell, just looking at it, but easy to surmise. How else would a tree grow? That’s all a tree seems to be for, to grow.
I love trees. People hear this about me and they ask – well, why do you live in a city? I tell them there are plenty of trees here, no forests of course, but trees. Young trees, old trees, struggling trees, thriving trees. Trees breaking the sidewalks and trees cut flat up the side for power lines.
And metaphorical trees too, just look at all the people here! People are fast trees, that’s all we are. We rise, we split, we balk at our environment and thrive anyway. We grow old and beautiful. One spring, our leaves won’t grow back again, and throughout that summer our bare branches will memorialize us to the passersby. Surrounded by green and flower, our branches will wave on the breeze, long past stilled breath. We stay in memories, then subsume into influence, until we are subliminal, maybe even mythical.
The great tree of life, as they say. Long suffering traumas past down the family tree. There is something old in all of us, old as the oldest trees, and it itself is a tree with great deep roots burrowed as far as the earth’s core, suckling on molten iron, and this explains – in a way – the great immutability of life. Infinite paths through finite soil.
That being said, I don’t know how to name a tree. I only recently relearned the difference between a conifer and a deciduous tree. And I’ve never looked at a tree and thought to myself, “Well, this is clearly Clive.”
I like to use Google Lens to identify pictures of trees through my neighborhood. Around here, there seems to be a lot of Black Walnut trees, a tree native to Europe of all places, and this makes me think they were planted here early in the century, or maybe before industrialization when this town was bucolic German farmland.
Hamtramck used to be the big brother to Detroit proper, not many people realize this. Detroit was a small fortification on the river and Hamtramck was the great expanse of woodland beyond it. As Detroit grew, it took on areas of the great Hamtramck woodlands until the town was just two flat, mostly paved square miles.
I rent my place from Peter, who is just a little older than me. He walks around every week picking up trash and tending to the dozen little spoutling trees he’s planted along the street. He is studying to be an arborist after spending a decade doing lighting and video work.
It seems like a total jump, but I get it. Digital life, the ones, zeroes, bottom lines, and ephemeral victories, feel as hollow as they sound. Thought electrified and just as quickly snuffed. Its easy to take inspiration in trees. They’re more like we are than we are.