Field Notes: Invaded Spruce



From My Field Notes:

I found the tree in April 2016, while I was scouting around for portrait locations.

I am almost sure it is a Spruce.

The Spruce stands on its own in a huge field of tall grasses and wildflowers. It is neither majestic nor diminutive; its most striking feature is its nearly perfect triangular shape.

One of its few neighbors is a massive Eastern White Pine that remains curiously untouched by invasive vines.

But the Spruce (now my Spruce) is nearly dead.

A few green branches poke out of the bottom its blanket of vines.

Recently I read that trees communicate with each other through their root systems. Even if they are different species, the roots have an intertwined underground system of supplying each other with nutrition and support.

I wonder: is my Spruce in touch with its healthy neighbor, the White Pine? Why hasn’t the Pine helped the Spruce? Or perhaps the Spruce is helping the Pine thrive by seducing and diverting all those invasive vines.

In many cultures trees represent longevity, even eternal life; they are the bridge between the ground and the sky, the earthly life and the heavens.

This Spruce is a different sort of Tree-of-Life, serving as a scaffold for the lowly vines that would otherwise not reach such heights. Nature provides us humans with so many metaphors, and here is one more to ponder.

The vines on the Spruce change throughout the year — there are several species of vines, but none last through the winter. When the first snow arrives, the vines all look the same: like withered brown strings.

Then six months later they are greening up, differentiating themselves with their leaf shapes and tendrils, twisting and clamoring for an exalted place at the top of the Spruce.

© 2019 Emily Hamilton Laux