Nature of Imagination

We are so fond of being out among nature, because it has no opinions about us. -Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900)

There’s nothing more inspiring than nature. Ask Frost, Walden, Thoreau… even Nietzsche (who I otherwise abhor). Whenever I need to recharge, I take a walk in the twelve acre park right across the street from where I live. There’s a million breathtaking sights every day, whether it’s a field of crows hunting insects in the green grass at dawn or a sky full of fruit bats soaring across an orange sunset.

As a writer, or maybe because I’m an imaginative person, I tend to anthropomorphize. Give me a teddy bear and I automatically assign him a personality (a beanie bear I got for my anniversary inspired a series of picture books for my niece). I do this with trees too. I have about six or seven favorites I pay a visit to when walking through the park or on my way to work. I don’t call them “George” or share my day or anything, but I acknowledge their existence. Sort of a casual nod to acquaintances. There are wise-looking ones, beautifully shaped picture postcard-worthy ones, ones that hold a birds’ nest every year, one the possum climbs at night, a long branch where a line of fruit bats dangle… So many trees, so many personalities.

Then last week I was on my way to work and ran across a scene like this:


A massive tree I’d often admired was suddenly on the ground in cedar red chunks and piles of sawdust. The workman were still sawing as I watched open-mouthed. It felt as though I’d stumbled on a murder scene. George!

I wanted to do something, but it was too late. And it’s not like you can report arboricide to the police. I know there are reasons to chop a tree down–power lines, too close to a building, etc–but this made no sense. It was a waste. I mourned him for days.

I lost another tree friend last year, which was an even bigger shock at the time. He’d been around forever, and I thought he’d last forever. I take these things too hard. It would be easier to stop anthropomorphizing, but I can’t. Instead, I gaze on my favorites a bit longer now, touch their bark, and imprint them to memory…and I buy more ebooks. Anything to save the lives of a few leafy friends.

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. – William Blake (1757-1827)

Originally Published 5/21/10 –

Thanks for reading! More posts on books, film, and writing can be found on my website at Lorel Clayton Author.

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