At the great Even the Kids Should See this, we stumbled on this remarkable video of the birth of a pine tree. We see the pine cone opening to disperse its seeds, then a seed sending up a shoot which gradually branches into a miniature pine tree over the course of the year. It’s the secret evolution of every pine tree we pass tromping around forests and through the canyons of Christmas trees for sale on New York City Streets.

It’s deepened our view of the Christmas trees spreading their quiet, primal cheer throughout the holiday season, from living rooms to the majestic 80-footer that stands — bewildered we imagine — overlooking Rockefeller Center.

And with all their miraculous beauty comes the scent that connects us deeply to ancient Nature. In The Most Wonderful Smelling Time of the Year biologist David George Haskell explains why the scent from Christmas trees makes for a such an elemental experience:

No other sense is as direct as smell. No other sense is as ancient. Smell bypasses the neural processing centers that mediate all other senses. The aroma of fir trees flies me directly into specific wordless memories: childhood holidays, hand-sawn woodwork and my feet tramping through wet forests…

This inward journey into human remembrance is mirrored by an outward connection to the lives of trees and forests. The chemical conversation between cells and air- and waterborne aromatic molecules unites all living beings, from animal noses to plant root tips to the cell surfaces of bacteria. The scents of holiday trees evoke primal experience.

…Yet, despite their importance to our well-being, we’re often disconnected from the lived, sensory experience of trees. Seasonal rituals let us heal this disconnection.

All this is going on in a genus of tree that first appeared about 130 million years ago. Suddenly a haiku by Issa popped into our head…

  Not yet become a Buddha
     this ancient pine tree


With wishes for a wondrous holiday season…

Maria Robledo

…from Improvised Life.

Maria Robledo

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