Spirit Tree Festival comes to Burnaby
There are some things that unite us all and one is the special relationship that human beings have with nature.
Mythologies and folklore the world over feature wishing trees, trees of life, sacred groves and beliefs in sympathetic relationships between humans and trees, like the planting of a tree to commemorate the birth of a child and the subsequent tending of the tree in the belief that this will help the child to grow strong.
From Tolkien’s Treebeard to the Ewoks in Star Wars, these ancient thoughts creep through our modern psyche.
Visitors to the Deer Lake Gallery often sit on the Zen deck and view, ponder and commune with a special tree in the backyard. The tree in question is a red cedar with two large swooping branches that have earned it the name of “elephant tree.”
One of my favourite activities is to ask visitors how old they think the tree is. I have heard everything from 50 to 500.
Theories abound from illness to bad pruning as to why the strange branches formed.
Whether it was planted when the house was built in the ‘50s or ‘60s or it was an old tree whose life force inspired a landscaper to leave it as a feature of the yard are all unknowns at this point.
And while part of me would like to know, I enjoy listening to the tree tell me stories of all the people who have come before me, their loving whispers and angry shouts, everyday plans and fantastic dreams.
Our special tree has inspired a Spirit Tree Festival Sept. 28–30 in the Burnaby Arts Council backyard as part of the Canada-wide Culture Days and coinciding with the City of Burnaby’s 120th birthday party.
It starts Friday, Sept. 28 with a Dedication to the Tree and Saturday and Sunday with interactive free workshops for young and old from making clay bird whistles to folk dancing, haiku poetry to jazz.
For details, visit www.burnabyartscouncil.org/spirit-tree-festival. You may pre-register for workshops or just drop in.
If you or your group feel inspired to share your special tree bond with a performance or reading please get in touch with us at the Burnaby Arts Council.
Linda Lewis is art services coordinator with the Burnaby Arts Council.