Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

We canceled our trip to Vermont; now we’re digging out from a deep, heavy, wet snowfall – and it’s still coming down. It is absolutely gorgeous outside because the snow is sticking to the tree branches, creating a visual fairyland. The power is still on right here, but down the road the power is out. As the wind picks up, more tree branches may come down. It’s beautiful, and it’s destructive – nature’s pruning processes.

Snow, Maple, and Barn, February 24, 2010

A few days ago, before this snowstorm, we trimmed a low-hanging branch on a young maple near the barn, thinking it would be best to do this while the sap is still in the roots. Well, we were too late – the sap slowly dripped from the cut, and I had an urge to fetch a bandage for the wound. Who knew that in February the sap has already begun to rise? I didn’t.The sap froze into skinny, sweet icicles, and now the tree’s branches are piled with snow.

I’ve begun reading a book on “new animism,” by Graham Harvey (Animism: Respecting the Living World). First he gives a survey of the historical, problematic uses of the word “animism,” then explores case studies and the new life that the concept of “animism” has taken on in the lives of people today. I’m not very far into the book, but so far it is intriguing reading. It also has made me feel especially disrespectful toward the tree for trimming his/her limb at a time when the sap is rising. The book helps me better understand why I felt like bandaging the wound, murmuring apologies to Maple, and listening for what Maple might be “telling” me.

Communing with Oak, Ireland 2004

Having been raised by botanists, I have a strong leaning toward science and rational explanations, but the world is a very complex and dimly understood place. Short shrift is given to “other ways of knowing” in our Western culture. A few years ago, I found myself researching ‘highly sensitive people’ to find stories of others who share my intense sensual involvement with the world in which we’re all embedded. Discovering and creating my place, my earthly tribe, my cosmic clan, in a way that goes beyond including just human persons, has been a life-long process begun in childhood. The circle has been ever-expanding: hence, sanctuary without walls.

Now I’ll wade through knee-deep Sister Snow to take a photo of this lovely day.

Comments on: "Snow Day, Flowing Sap and Animism" (14)

  1. Theadora Davitt-Cornyn said:

    I love to see the outlines of bare trees in winter ~ their architecture reminds me of what lies below the ground out of sight… echoes of their root systems! As do the trees, we need our arms outstreched to the skies and feet firmly planted on the ground.


  2. Beautiful photo and sad to hear about Maple’s bandage! This book sounds intriguing, so many things are fitting into place for me right now and the idea that we are no longer the center of it all and never were – even though our culture screams it from every possible angle – is really, really just starting to hit home – wherever home may be.

    I am starting to look at things in a very different way, today I became fixated with the wooden floor, realizing, REALLY realizing for the first time that it was once a tree, not in a matter of fact way, but in a very emotional and complex-matrix-involved way, in a visceral and even a displacing way – in that I mean suddenly I was not the ‘centre’ of things any more.

    Lou x x


    • Yes, Louisa, these feelings are visceral, but displaced does not mean disconnected . . .
      I think of Thich Nhat Hanh’s concept of “interbeing.”
      Thank you for your comment.


  3. Lovely, Katharine. Our power was off today – it felt like a surprising gift of quiet, softness, rest – at least once I realized I couldn’t do so many of the things on my long list.


  4. Do Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) have a thing for animals?

    I joined a group last month, and want to find out. Haven’t heard about tree people, but will keep a lookout for you.

    michael j


  5. Lovely photo and sentiments Katharine!


  6. Tis a fantastic bookMr Haveys. May I also recommend “The Art Of Conversation With The Genius Loci” by Barry Patterson … Spider..


    • Spider, Thanks for the book suggestion. I visited your blog, thrilled to see photos of snowdrops. Here they are hiding under a foot of snow! Stop by again sometime. Katharine


  7. Katharine, I’m so delighted to learn of your blog (via Diggitt), and I want to add you to my blogroll. I too was influenced by Harvey’s book–deeply–in that it brought together my academic life in religious studies and my personal life of nature spirituality practices. I’m happy to provide more academic resources if you’re interested. Last July I had the chance to meet and present with Graham at a conference in Amsterdam, which was delightful. (Stories from that conference are on my blog.) I too value the knowledge from my senses, including the more subtle and intuitive ones, and I appreciate how observing/being in nature brings those various sensory capabilities together.

    Your blog is delightful!


    • Priscilla,
      Thank you for your enthusiastic response to my blog. I’m new at blogging; wanted to get some of my ideas out there and make connections – so I’m delighted the Diggitt told you about me! It is wonderful finding kindred spirits through this medium. Learning as I go along.
      I took a brief look at your blog, and I’m looking forward to spending some extended time with it – very rich and inspiring!
      Any resources you’d care to mention would be much appreciated – perhaps via email would be best.
      Keep in touch!


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