The Magic Mirror Tree

I walked around the middle part of campus on Thursday morning after the snow, and there was nothing but sunshine and blue skies. It was clear and brisk and lovely, the way it often is after a big storm has moved through.

They only got a few inches of snow in town - we got a few more out where I live - and it was a March snow. You know what that means: by mid-afternoon, a lot of it would melt and disappear into mud. I thought I might spy a snowman or two around campus, but alas, I didn't see a single one.

I was walking by a favorite tree in front of Burrowes, and was surprised to see a bunch of people gathered out on the mall in groups, shifting from foot to foot. As I grew closer, I could hear a fire drill ringing inside, which explained why they were all standing out in the cold (for at this point in the day, it was only in the mid-20s).

And I stopped and took a photo of a favorite big tree, one of the mighty elms that grace nearly every pathway on our campus. I was having fun playing with its reflection in the mirror-like window of Burrowes Building, which you may see above.

When I was standing in the same place a week or two ago, making another version of this shot, I felt very happy indeed to think of this beautiful tree, sitting there for practically forever, admiring its own reflection. Yay, rock on, beautiful tree!

But then I suddenly realized that trees don't have eyes, and so it probably was NOT looking at itself. Perhaps it didn't even know how beautiful it is. Which made me a little sad. Does a tree have consciousness? Does it have a concept of self?

I've been reading some articles lately about and by researchers who say that trees are much more active in managing their environments than we realized. That trees communicate, and interact, take care of each other, form networks. They extend goodwill to some creatures but ill will to others who might harm them.

While I am no tree expert, I am a tree lover. So I cannot provide any useful guidance on any of the topics related to trees and science. But I can tell you this: the original tree was beautiful, and so was the copy that was reflected back in the magic mirror.

The song: Def Leppard, with Mirror, Mirror.

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