Tuesday, October 28, 2014


                 A few years ago, when we were in Chiapas, it seemed as though the great trees of the rain forest asked me to speak for them, and eventually I did. The trees were on the edge of the last remnants of old rain forest in the state. I wanted an in - a path, a way to walk through the forest - but I couldn’t find one, and the foliage was so dense. I have longed to walk through the rain forest since that journey.

     We are in Peru, on Lake Sandoval, in the Amazon. We walked two miles from the boat landing to the lake on a wide path through the forest. There are other paths here, leading out from the lodge, and you see the most amazing things. 

         Mimicry, mimicry, mimicry - nothing is what it seems. Leaves become butterflies, stones are beetles, snakes are vines and vines are snakes. If it is beautifully colored and patterned it’s poisonous - camouflaged is edible. The amount and variation of pattern and texture is constant. Everything is both everlasting and sudden - the sighting of a toucan, an alligator rising, the river otters cascading like rapids.
Photo by Bill Fulton
         The bird that has whooped since wake-up turns out to be a frog. The half minute buzz like a loose high tension wire is the bird with a name out of Dr. Seuss: the blue crowned motmot. The guacamayos are much noisier than starlings, and it is wondrous and strange to see them in groups squawking, rather than singly in a cage, the word macaw written on some brittle plaque. The sudden epidemic of wheezes came from birds with orange plumes a blue streak and the body of a chicken. Now when we are on the lake and hear what sounds like a ward of asthmatics we know its the hoatzins.  

Photo by Bill Fulton
It’s magical to put the sounds and patterns and practice together into how a world behaves. Some plants must be explained before we can fathom their magic: The fruits growing straight out of the mottled thin trunk of one tree are cacao beans. The  walking palm, with a tepee of thin branches instead of a trunk, moves 30 inches a year. I don’t seem to tire of watching the squirrel monkeys. They cover such great distances between branches. It looks like flight and I can’t believe it's not play as well as transport.

Walking palm
          Rain! it pours and pours for an hour leaving puddles and the butterflies come to drink. We are breathless from color and pattern but no one can photograph the fast blue morpho, a silk streak who never seems to land. We are told that when the rainy season comes this quiet waveless lake will rise and rise and bury the roots of the great trees.

       The rain forest trees are my people, my tribe. I greet each one with reverence - kapok, rubber, brazil nut (of course there’s a bird that can crack that nut) and ironwood and my soul tree, the fig that I also found in Africa - all buttressed like cathedrals.
       I ask the fig/ask myself what the trees need, and the response is a deep silence and I understand this is not a refusal to answer but what is necessary.    
     The trees tell us they are Gaia’s lungs - beings who breathe through their roots. For the Inca and other peoples, Pachamama, we were told, is known as a goddess, but in Incan philosophy she is nature plus time, or how the world works. It was Gregory Bateson who used the word stochastic to describe the union of nature and time and, that, he said, is how evolution works.
Photo by Bill Fulton






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