AMBIENT THOUGHT – EPISODE Two Hundred: Trees and We

The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.


“A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander.”
― Roman Payne, The Wanderess

I love that quote.

But, I believe we are a lot like trees.

I recently saw a cut-down tree by the road as I was driving to work. It had been a large oak, not too different than the one that grows in our backyard (I call him Henry). For some reason, I drove by slowly and noticed the stump that had been left in the ground for someone to grind down or for the yard owners to turn into a shrine for some birdfeeders or yard clutter. I saw the rings that were once hidden that was now naked to the grey colored sky. It must have been there, growing slowly, for decades. Who knows what it must have seen?

As I drove away, it depressed me. I hope that it had been a mercy that the owners cut down such a large tree and not from yard vanity.

You see, I love trees. For those that have read my blog posts from day one, you know that this is true. I have written about climbing them in my youth, falling from them (in my childhood), admiring them, especially in the fall. I have even taken naps in one tree in particular and woken up still safe in its limbs. Hell, my last name (Elmore for those that don’t know) has a tree in it. I admire their use of camouflage for animals and their use of camouflage from neighbors. They bring us beauty in the spring and fall and give us shade in the summer.

When I saw those rings, it made me think that human beings are the same way. If we had rings inside us, you would see the times when the rings were formed correctly and smooth. And you could know when the rings were deformed and not perfect. You could see where the knots started and continued as the years went by, maybe even when disease set in and beaten. Or when it finally became too much and felled the tree/human.

When I think about my internal rings, I think about those fantastic times and when my rings formed the way they should and the times when days were difficult and caused stress and malformities in my structure. Lucky, not long hold disease has affected me (so far), and I continue to grow and rise above the ground.

Like trees, we also have to have the proper environment to grow. We need good strong roots, an appropriate amount of light, and life-giving nutrients that our roots can be absorbed and transferred through our limbs. And during certain seasons in our lives, we must shed ourselves of what is used (fall) and grow back what is useful (spring). We must allow others to share our space (birds and squirrels) and repel those that mean doing us harm (termites). We might find ourselves surrounded by friends and family and enemies (forest) or find ourselves alone (a yard). We must learn to sway in the breeze and not be too rigid. But the breeze may turn into a storm with strong winds, and hope and pray that we don’t break.

If only we lived as long as some trees do. They watch us swing from their limbs, kiss our loved ones at their trunks, and, maybe, buried near them. And they continue to grow. 

And some trees get cut down too early to make way for something human-made, cut down in their prime. Or earlier.

We are trees. And we are related. 

Don’t believe me?

Have you ever noticed how a tree in winter, leafless, looks like the brain’s cellular form? I don’t think that’s by mistake.

If you cut us in half (please don’t do that), you would not see rings. You might see fat in the arteries and a tumor (I hope not), but there will not be any rings that can tell us how our past affected us.

But they are there. See the rings or not, the rings are there in every cell that makes up our body. They are there in every cell that makes up our brains and how we take on each good day or bad day. They are in every cell that makes up our heart and how it breaks or swells with excitement and pride.

We have rings, from when we are a seed and a sapling, to the moment we are felled. We hope that we help fertilize the future.

I saw a piece of that felled tree by the road that I wanted to take and hang on my garage wall. It was thin enough to do so. I decided to drive away and leave it for the city to pick up and shred in their mobile grinder. 

I decided that I have my rings to take care of. I carry them with me wherever I go. 

I hope that your rings have a usual shape. And I hope when you are felled one day, you help fertilize the trees (and rings) to come.

-Loyd Elmore Jr
June 18th, 2021

I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.

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