October 21, 2018

Since I am now breathing with the trees each evening as I walk my neighborhood, Carl Sagan’s words in his book, “Cosmos,” take on more meaning (p. 33).  It is not only exercise.  It is calming, joyful, and meaningful.

“Human beings grew up in forests; we have a natural affinity for them.  How lovely a tree is, straining toward the sky.  Its leaves harvest sunlight to photosynthesize, so trees compete by shadowing their neighbors.  If you look closely you can often see two trees pushing and shoving with languid grace.  Trees are great and beautiful machines, powered by sunlight, taking in water from  the ground and carbon dioxide from the air, converting these materials into food for their use and ours.  The plant uses the carbohydrates it makes as an energy source to go about its planty business.  And we animals, who are ultimately parasites on the plants, steal the carbohydrates so we can go about our business.  In eating the plants we combine the carbohydrates with oxygen dissolved in our blood because of our penchant for breathing air, and so extract the energy that makes us go.  In the process we exhale carbon dioxide, which the plants then recycle to make more carbohydrates.  What a marvelous cooperative arrangement — plants and animals each inhaling the other’s exhalations, a kind of planet-wide mutual mouth-to-stoma resuscitation, the entire elegant cycle powered by a star 150 million kilometers away.

…An oak tree and I are made of the same stuff.  If you go far enough back, we have a common ancestor.”

%d bloggers like this: