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The Trees In My Garden

Photo By Sharon Bacher

From her veranda, Sharon contemplates the joys of nature and in particular, of trees and of the song, "Etz Ha-sadeh". "To me," she writes, "the song speaks of the cycle of life; of our hope and striving to grow and regenerate even as we shield ourselves from threats and inevitably, death." How blessed I am to live in an apartment with a wonderful second-floor veranda leading off my study. Sitting in my private space, I have the sense of being in a forest of towering Tipuanas that afford me privacy; a place of respite where I can happily while away time in contemplative thought.

It's like I am in a splendid park. My Tipuanas tower almost to the top of my building, spreading their dappled leaves and shading me from the sun that plays hide and seek within an ever-changing canopy.  It rustles and shifts with nature; birds of all colors tweet and crow and skip from branch to branch, toiling and trilling endlessly. Flowers bloom cheekily and fall, spreading a yellow carpet over the emerald grass. The feral cats that live in the garden below squirm and sleep away the hours, too fat and content from being fed to forage for food. And flying, crawling and crackling insects nibble, pollinate, and aerate the soil. Corona may have isolated me from my friends and family, but I exist in harmony within a rich multi-textured living organism.

And now, in the time of corona, I feel very small. At one moment everything feels so sure. My trees seem strong and solid and permanent and I hope for a gentle unwinding of my life, in its comforting shade. Then suddenly, I am confronted with the dispassionate awareness of the inevitable cycle of birth and death; and of the fragility of my expectations and delusions. Corona crashes through my fantasies and I know I may be tossed into the air by unseen currents from realms beyond my control. Suddenly even the lazy cats in the garden may have to find their own food. And a random jolt of electricity may split the trunk of my tree down to its roots.

In my contemplative mood, the words of the song, "Etz Ha-sadeh", come to mind.I know the words are a quotation from Deuteronomy, and that their meanings have gotten lost (or enriched) by the endless "pilpul" of our sages. They debate whether a tree can be considered "alive" and in what sense it can be likened to a man. They discuss our reverence for trees and under what circumstances we may cut them down. To me, the song speaks of the cycle of life; of our hope and striving to grow and regenerate even as we shield ourselves from threats and inevitably, death.

The music of the song was written by Shalom Chanoch and the lyrics by Natan Zaach.Nurit Galron, Shalom Chanoch and Shimon Yisraeli are some of the performers who have sung it. It is usually associated  with Tu B'Shvat when we celebrate the birthday of trees.

FOR THE HUMAN IS THE TREE IN A FIELD

For the human is like the tree in a field,
like the human, the tree grows too;
like the tree, the human is chopped down,
and I don't know
where I've been and where I'll be,
like the tree in a field!

For the human is like the tree in a field,
like the tree he strives upwards; it burns in fire,
and I don't know
where I've been and where I'll be,
like the tree in a field!

I loved, and I hated too,
I tasted this and that;
I was buried in a plot of dust,
and I feel a bitter taste in my mouth like the tree in a field!

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Monday, 23 November 2020

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