Sunday, February 17, 2013

On Seeing The Forest And Seeing The Trees

(But I was not in the forest, only the park.)

They say that you cannot see the forest for the trees meaning that you are paying too much attention to the details to see the larger picture.  I get the gist of the idiom, but to really see the forest you must also see the trees. There is no either or. The mind is like the eye in its amazing capacity to switch focus from near to far, and to perceive also, however dimly, those things just sneaking up off to the side and at the edges.

Joe dragged me to Prospect Park to see the blooming witchhazel and I so I went out for the flowers (yay!) but also saw the trees. Joe also brought home a book from the library which I have swiped out from under him, The Man who Planted Trees by Jim Robbins with a subtitle Lost Groves, Champion Trees and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet. I expect it will switch back and forth from specific beetles and regional forest die-offs to global perspectives, particular species and things in between, notably one man's quest to clone the world's champion trees (I read the bookflap). I expect to oscillate between being sad and hopeful, wanting to read it whole and taking my time with it. There is no either or.

On the books cover is an image of a tree cutting in a test tube presumably one of those cuttings from a Champion tree. Or to put it another way, there is an image of a small piece of one big tree.

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