random quotes ... to amuse, inspire, enrage:
  The forest at night is a funny place. The trees get bigger, and they seem to come alive, as though during the day they were asleep or gone from their bodies, and only at night do they animate themselves and live, perhaps even pulling up their roots and walking the valley floors. If you're out there you can sometimes almost catch them at it, just beyond the corner of your eye. Of course on a moonless night it only takes a little wind to imagine such things. Branches dip to tousle the hair, and the falling-water sounds of the leaves are like soft voices calling in the distance. Two holes make eyes, a trail blaze is a smiling mouth, branches are arms, leaves hands. Easy. Still I think it may be true that they are a type of nocturnal animal. They are alive, after all. We tend to forget that. In the spring they sprout joyously, in the summer they bask in the sun, in the winter they suffer bare and cold. Just like us. Except they sleep during the day and come awake at night. So if you want to have much to do with them, night is the time to be out among them.

The different trees wake up in different ways, and they treat you differently. Eucalyptus trees are friendly and talkative. Their branches tend to grow across each other, and in a wind they creak constantly. And their hanging leaves twirl and clack together, making the falling-water sound, a rising and falling voice that caresses like a hug, or a brushing of the forehead. The eucalyptus has a great voice. But you wouldn't want to touch one, or give it a hug, unless you could see it and avoid the gum. The bark is smooth and cool, fragrant like the rest of the tree with that sharp dusty smell, but it doesn't grow as fast as the wood inside it, I guess, and there are a lot of breaks in it as a result, cracks that split it completely. These cracks leak gum like a dog slobbers, and in the dark you can't keep from getting your hands and arms in it, and coming away all sticky.

Pine trees are more forbidding speakers. In a breeze their quiet whoooos are fey, and the wild ohhhhhhhs they utter when the wind is up can raise the hair on the back of your neck. But pines feel good to the touch, and you can look at their black silhouettes against the sky forever. Torrey pines have the longest needles, and their little branches are all curly. They spiral off the main branches like pieces of the springs that Rafael keeps in his shop, and make lovely patterns against the others. And the rough, brittle bark feels wonderful against the skin, it's like a giant cat's tongue. Redwood bark is even better, all split and hairy: you can put your fingers in cracks around the sides and hang on for dear life. It's like hugging a bear, or holding on to your ma and crying into her hair. Good friends, pine trees, though you have to ignore their stern voice and touch them to find that out.

tagged: trees, forest
  —Kim Stanley Robinson, The Wild Shore, Chapter 21 (1984).

Archive for December, 2010

omg, government secrets not safe!

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

“I do think it’s true that the large contours of national and international policy are much harder to keep secret today,” said Steven Aftergood, who runs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “It would not be possible to conduct a secret war in Cambodia, as took place in the Nixon […]

amidst a long dark hiatus of the blog, THIS

Friday, December 10th, 2010

THIS. Glenn Greenwald on “The media’s authoritarianism and WikiLeaks”. Please note Greenwald’s excoriation of the widespread misstatement about what WikiLeaks has actually done: WikiLeaks has only posted 1269 of the 250,000 cables they possess. They have not “posted” or “published” all of them; they have not “dumped” them. They have published a very small, screened […]


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