Like an iceberg, much of the business of a tree takes place below the surface, in the form of roots. Can roots be trusted? Very hard to say. Look at the next big tree you see. Maybe there is a special tree you feel a connection to, in your yard or a place in nature that you feel is yours, even though it’s not. Now look at that tree and visualize that there is an even bigger tree underneath it, except it’s the same tree, just upside down, and buried in dirt. Now how do you feel? If you’re like me, you feel a little bit betrayed, and confused. What’s going on down there? And why is it necessary?
Some people think that “why” is the question of failure. These are the “how” people, but these people fail to realize that “how” is the question of boredom. “Why” is more interesting. Sort of like how a miniature toad that secretes poison is more interesting than a pendulum swinging back and forth. Obviously.
There is also the question of leaves. Why some drop their leaves in the fall and some keep them on. Scientists would say this has something to do with xylem and phloem, but maybe we should consider temperament. Some trees have a terrible time letting go (evergreens). They will not budge. Nothing will stop a tree with little pointy things on its branches from being anything other than what it is. Well, great. But have you ever seen the ground around the base of an evergreen tree? Sticky. Full of needles. Like a war zone. Can’t get near it. Nobody wants to climb an evergreen tree because it hurts and it will take you a week to get that junk off your hands. And really, the evergreen tree doesn’t want you climbing it anyway, because if it did, it wouldn’t punish you by being so sticky and pointy. It would be smooth and fun. Unless you fell off.
Still others (sugar maple!) flame out with a brilliant red and let go way too fast and then sit there bare and ashamed while all the other trees slowly turn yellow, then orange, then brown. It may be a question of patience. It may also be too much sugar going on.
We will not find answers here. Just more questions. Questions like, is that tree outside your window watching you and judging?