March 11, 2020

In Poland, there’s a grove of pines known as the Crooked Forest, so named for the one hundred trees whose trunks bend at ninety degrees just above the ground, then after a few feet, curve back to the sky. They were planted in the 1930s, and no one knows why they grew, or more likely, were cultivated to grow this way. It’s hard not to find the symbolism in that: the way we bend ourselves, our world into unnatural shapes, so assured of a purpose that, years and years later, no one can recall. Or, to take it another way, the way the world bends us—the pressure of storms that push us into angles we have no choice but to adapt to. In Portland, it’s spring, the buds erupting on the trees after a long winter’s absence. It’s hard not to find the symbolism in that: how every year, we forget to expect it, and every year, God revives our world, ourselves nonetheless. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the nature of mistakes, how much we’re bound to the consequences of what we’ve done. Are we condemned to live at crooked angles because something, someone, even our own untraceable logic pushed us this way? Or can we course correct, accept the angle but only for so long, before we straighten back up to the sky? I like the cherry blossoms because, most often, they are one of the first things to bloom, sometimes even before the winter has fully passed. I like the defiance of a Northwest spring—the riot of pink, purple, yellow, white against the backdrop of rain and mud and leafless trees. I like the singing of the birds in the still-dark morning, the quiet stirring of “things as they are” not content to become “things as they will be.”

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