These are the trees.
The leaves of the tree command our attention. They are boisterous in the wind. Cooling and calming in the summer. Riotous in color during autumn. They love to show off. They love to talk to us and to each other.
They are the most noticeable – and beautiful – part of a tree.
But they are inconstant. Always changing. Subject to the whims of the weather, to the appetites of the little creatures that crawl upon them. Their green goes red, orange, yellow, and eventually brown. They fall off the tree. Die.
But underneath the ground, the unseen, unattractive, humble roots remain the same. Constant. Quiet. Always searching for nutrients.
The roots twist and turn, anticipating obstacles before hitting them, rerouting to find the easier path. The roots communicate with the organisms in the soil in whispered voices, trying to pass by without anyone or anything taking especial notice. The roots slip one way and then another, creating a web of opportunity and a platform of stability.
It is hard to break a root. They are thick, woody, and the moisture from the ground makes their woodiness even tougher. Harder to cut, break, or split. They are strong. Impervious to the whims of passing violence.
The roots run deep and wide. They don’t ask for or want attention or glory or appreciation. They do their job, tirelessly. Endlessly. Unflinchingly.
In between all of this stands the trunk. The quiet sentinel watching, listening, witnessing. In the middle of the spectacular pageantry of the leaves and the incredible strength and fortitude of the roots, the trunk sits in such determined stillness, you don’t notice his movements until years, even decades, have gone by.
Sometimes, he will twist and bend when searching for water and nutrients. As the years go on, he will increase in size, both in length and circumference, adding ring after ring, each invisible to the world outside, only seen in his death (or in very invasive exploration). He proudly displays the leaves above, letting them have all the glory. He is thankful for the roots below that sustain and steady him. He even offers support to those who need a place to lean, or furry creatures who need a way up, up, up, into the branches, safe from the perils that await it down below.
Ancient and slow. Green and hardy. Quiet and full of passion. Alive. So alive.
These are the trees.