Abel Tasman’s. Leafy. Specimen.


I’ve heard a lot about Rata and Rimu lately, hiking along the coast of New Zealand with an avid botanist who personally introduces us to each specimen on the trail. The Rimu, (which we notice could just as well be Rumi if you scatter the letters and rearrange them), is a tall, elegant poem of a tree with long-leafed fingers reaching into the blue sky. High onto its branches, spores of the Northern Rata lodge and begin to sprout, growing roots down – 25, 35, 50 feet down – until they touch soil. The Rata roots, growing downward oh, so slowly, encircle their host and embrace it, until at last they form a solid casing around it. The Rimu, enfolded, dies a natural death of old age; while the Rata lives on, rooted in the same soil, for hundreds of years to come. At the center, forming the core, is always the lingering poem.

At our Christmas gathering last, my father sat quietly, beyond speech, as his family encircled him. We chattered away about our lives, children and grandchildren with little greatgrand now all at last rooted in soil, and growing around him, thickly, forming a tree of our own. The golden-tongued poet was silent at the center of us all. After our exchange of gifts, he spoke as he could to our straining ears.”The thing of which I am most proud”, said my father, “of all that I have done in this life, is this, my family.” We circled around him, our strong roots joined, now holding up his faltering trunk.

He will go, of course, from us. The family will live on for years beyond. But at the center of who we are is the tree who hosted us when we were simply spores of ideas. The one whose wide branches held us as we grew down into ourselves, into our place on earth.

At the core of our lives – all of our lives, I want to believe – is an elegant poem not of our making. It lingers in us, beyond speech, distilled into love.


~ by Susan on 01/10/2013.

3 Responses to “Abel Tasman’s. Leafy. Specimen.”

  1. Simply Beautiful, Susan. I’m touched beyond words. He’s a lucky man to be surrounded and supported by so much love — as he clearly recognizes — just as you all are incredibly fortunate to have grown with his love and support. Peace.

  2. Moved to tears by this. What a profound, exquisite metaphor applicable to all of us! Thank you so much dear Susan.

  3. What legacy…beautiful! Thanks

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