I think of trees as people. Sometimes they’re conspiratorial, whispering overhead—sometimes silent and dignified witnesses to time. In our forests in the high desert they rarely give themselves over to verdant displays of green.
Their leaves are guarded, thick-skinned and rough, with prickles and other defensive strategies, to hold tight against drought. Trunks can be patterned like lizard skins. Thin-skinned trunks would be vulnerable here outside the high mountains.
In the desert proper they look more like miniatures. It’s almost like they’re poised to shy from reaching toward the sun. They’re also guarded, needled, prickly and flowering with foreign kinds of green. Acid, olive, jewel, red-tipped, bottle-brushed, yellow-blossomed, and home to strange beetles that live dormant in the ground for years who climb up them in rainy seasons and create oceans waves of some kind of primordial loud whistle and screech that’s weirdly sexy.
I’ve got a recurring theme in my work that has to do with Spirits that seem to inhabit different kinds of trees. There can be babies huddled and sleeping in thick roots, sensual women curved into trunks and devious, aggressive smooth-talkers reaching down to enfold you in fruit and fig leaves. The fig trees themselves become loaded up with young figs that are pale green and shaped like testicles—mounded together and bursting with some tree version of testosterone. It is possible to get a crush on a tree to where you draw it just too many times.
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