Alder the Elder.

Alder, Wye, and Ben. Photo by me.


I am thinking about Alder fixing nitrogen at the roots next to the flowing, swirling river. They are in symbiosis with all realms of friendly powers to do this.  True.

Fixed, rooted, “they have figured how to live trapped into place,” says one of Richard Powers’ characters in Overstory.*

They are stillness in the ground, and unable to outrun us. They are vulnerable to pestilences, including our terrible machines. They evolved to be hardened, poisonous and giant to all who may assault them, yet they are losing this race brought upon them. True.

Are they really so fixed?

I am listening to Alder, intently.  With their belly in the ground, their body and limbs above, defying gravity, and their thousands of faces — leaves, buds–  turned patiently towards the sky, I am quiet; present. Sixty years staring at the sky, as we spin on our axis, and around the Sun, and around the Milky Way’s tiny, dense, black hole, and away from whatever lays at the centre of the universe, riding on dark matter at ever-increasing speed.

Alder says they don’t know the meaning of stillness. It’s not in their vocabulary, so rooted are they in this cosmic dance. Neither do their symbiotic messengers know such stillness. We are all constantly moving. In Spring, look up towards the Sun and the stars, just like the unfurling leaves.

Alder’s DNA, their being, floats all the way up to high cirrus, and thousands of miles, and years.

I think I’d like to be a part, if they’ll allow it.


Alder pronouns: they, them, theirs. They are monecious, hermaphroditic, so until I can hear them say their pronouns…


*Overstory by Richard Powers, Vintage. 2018




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