Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The vanity of trees

Yesterday in the rain I looked up at the tree shielding me from the deluge as I scurried across the parking lot. A pin oak. Its branches were graceful, its leaves beautifully displayed in silhouette against the opaque sky. I was struck in that instant by its beauty, which surprised me because I wasn't in one of those dreamy poetry-reading moods. It was as if I'd recently eaten some Amsterdam space cake or something. (Which I hadn't.) I thought, This tree is beautiful! Then I wondered whether the tree would be gratified in some way by my appreciation, if it could know about it -- assuming that there would be a way for trees to know things. Then I thought, maybe not, maybe visual appearance isn't a souce of pride to trees the way it would be for animals like us. Maybe they'd rather be praised for hardy pollen or something.

Then I thought, What the hell is wrong with me?