Letter from the Director, April 2022
The Mother Tree
The more I read about trees, the more intrigued I am. The more I walk the property around RWC and study the trees, the more I am convinced that these complex organisms have an intelligent Spirit and communicate. I recently came across a book called Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard. According to Simard, “Mother trees are the biggest, oldest trees in the forest. They are the glue that holds the forest together. They have the genes from previous climates; they are homes to so many creatures, so much biodiversity. Through their huge photosynthetic capacity, they provide food for the whole soil web of life. They keep carbon in the soil and aboveground, and they keep the water flowing. These ancient trees help forests recover from disturbances. We can’t afford to lose them.”
Fascinating! I wanted to find a Mother Tree on RWC land and it didn’t take long. I’ve been walking beside the north fork of Flat Creek, examining the water flow and the sturdiness of the creek bed after rain. Along the water’s path grow several creek-loving sycamore trees. I’ve always loved sycamores for their stark white bark, large leaves with five lobes, and their prickly round seed balls that hang like ornaments in fall and winter. They are magnificent trees. About midway along the section of creek bed I walk stands a Mother Tree. Mother Sycamore. She measures 13 feet in circumference and is probably 80 feet tall. There are at least 10 smaller sycamores growing near her. This Mother Tree not only holds the bed of the creek in place, but provides shade and shelter for insects, birds, and other animals that live nearby. She is doing her job as Protector and Helper, just like any mother.
I like to think of the writers’ colony as Helper and Protector too. If we truly believe in the power of words, which is our tagline, we also have to make the colony a safe place in which to write and speak those words. If “place” can be a positive influence, a nurturing zone, an area safe enough to risk sharing the heart and soul of the language inside, then writers (and their words) can be what they are meant to be. As the calendar fills for spring and summer and I get ready to welcome a rush of both new and returning writers, I hope writers feel the love poured into this place – love that manifests through the walls of our old farmhouse and along the paths in the gardens and trails. RWC was built to help, protect, and bless so that all the important words are sheltered and guarded until they are ready to fly. Kind of like what mothers do, right?!