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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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---continuation commentary #9g----

But that vital spirit, which was enclosed in the tender and tiny seed of the tree, through so many centuries always flourished in the same way: it brought forth new cells and ducts, new leaves, fresh flowers, and fruit through all the years in succession; nor was it impeded or hindered in its activity by any external force which had touched it throughout the space of 2000 or more years. Though innumerable plants perished around it, though the river, with its course changed in various ways, formed new islands and tore away the earlier banks, though all the vicissitudes of human life -- births, deaths, tears, joys, plenty, famine --recurred in combination again and again around the giant, it always remained the same and unharmed. Those savage and light-fleeing cave dwellers of America sprang up and perished without a trace while that tree lived. 

Etching 9 Ancient trees from Martius's Flora Brasiliensis 1840. Thanks to Lehigh U., Special Collections ! Color by C. Miranda Chor

Indeed -- and by this thought I am shaken most powerfully -- this tree with its great strength had already surpassed the usual bounds of the life of individual beings and was flourishing with firmness, when Christ was born, and those things in the religions of humankind that went to ruin or were changed and those that subsequently followed, the sufferings of the martyrs, the calamities suffered by the Christians, the wicked ragings, the new states of private and public affairs, the battles and wars of peoples, the new advances in human learning, all these things happened, but this tree in its secluded dwelling was in no way affected. And so, just as in the heavens the various bodies move, each as impelled by their nature, so too in our small world, bodies and spirits move and course separately, nor is one hindered or impeded by the other. But enough has been said of these matters. 

For I would think that many who have read what I have been saying have already been asking me, "To what genus and to what species of plants does this tree and its sisters belong?" But as if this enormous daughter of nature
wished to make sport of the feebleness and smallness of human beings, I cannot deny that a sure name for this tree eluded me, and that I cannot offer anything other than what I learned from the Indians. These called the tree "Jatai" and "Jutai", so that I am uncertain as to whether it ought to be understood as Hymenaea Courbaril or Outea gujanensis Aubl. I was unable to knock down leaves with a projectile from a tree of such great height, nor did I find any lying on the ground; I was no more able to find flowers or fruit. And, since the trunk rose up like a wall and was free from any vines, it was not at all possible that we climb it.

Etching commentary #9g