Over our transom came this moving piece from Underland: a Deep Time Journey by British naturalist Robert Macfarlane. We’ve written before about his remarkable ability to connect us to nature, landscape, heart

Lying there among the trees, despite a learned wariness towards anthropomorphism, I find it hard not to imagine these arboreal relations in terms of tenderness, generosity and even love: the respectful distance of their shy crowns, the kissing branches that have pleached with one another, the unseen connections forged by root and hyphae between seemingly distant trees.

I remember something Louis de Bernières has written about a relationship that endured into old age: “we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.” As someone lucky to live in a long love, I recognize that gradual growing-towards and subterranean intertwining; the things that do not need to be said between us, the unspoken communication which can sometimes tilt troublingly towards silence, and the sharing of both happiness and pain.

I think of good love as something that roots, not rots, over time, and of the hyphae that are weaving through the ground below me, reaching out through the soil in search of mergings. Theirs, too, seems to me then a version of love’s work.

Robert Macfarlane, Underland: a Deep Time Journey

McFarlane’s view is a powerfully heartening one. Imagining the trees around us “in terms of tenderness, generosity and even love” helps us carry those qualities with us as we navigate our world.

With thanks to Lisa Morphew.

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