Volume 1 Issue 33: Trees

Words, Wind & Magic

Cindy Potts

Before you can understand why words are magic, you need to understand what wind is, and to understand the wind, you need to watch the trees. The best time to do this is on a bright, brisk day at the end of autumn, when the trees have lost almost all of their leaves and stand branch and trunk revealed.

No two trees are alike. Each type has its own strategy for facing the fiercest winds. The birch is quick to bow down while the swamp ash stands tall and trembling. The pines do their best to appear unmoved, while old apple trees revel in their fragility – branches hung with stubborn fruit shed like they were mere leaves in honor of the breeze.

The trees remain after the wind has stopped. Not all of them, of course – there is always in the forest the dying and the dead, and some of them hold their ground, but others choose to fall. The rest, stubborn, strong, resigned, return to the business of their lives – settling in for the cold times that are to come.

But first the birch must straighten. The swamp ash stills its sway, the pine relaxes in the sun. The apple tree that lost the most greets the dawn with a defiant grin, the rigor of the tussle having served as a tonic for it. Each tree has its own route back to stillness; the young ones race it, the old ones take their time.

After any strong wind, you can see how the trees are marked. It is in lost leaves, snapped limbs, and trunks snapped between crown and ground the wind records its history. The relationship between intensity and impact is measured in damage – but what ends the story for one creates the tale for another. Watch the spaces the wind has made. None remain vacant for long.

Among trees, each generation resembles the one that came before in appearance and in habit. Their existence proves that their strategies are successful enough, whether the wind is gentle or strong. It is the response to inevitability that shapes them. The wind will always blow.

Words are wind laden with intention. The forest – all who hear, all who listen, all who understand. You can see the marks the wind’s left on the people that it has touched, the damage done, the opportunities seized. And the winds that you are master of have left marks of their own.

People are not as fixed as the trees, nor are they as free as they might imagine themselves to be. The wind that doesn’t uproot the tree still touches it. The wind shapes the wood as words shape the world – slowly and inevitably. Watch the trees. See how it’s done.


Cindy Potts collects and tells stories. Find her on Facebook @CindyBPotts

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