Thursday, February 10, 2011


“Oh, the cedar tree!

If mankind in its infancy
had prayed for the perfect substance
for all material and aesthetic needs,
an indulgent god could have provided nothing better.
Beautiful in itself,
with a magnificent flared base
tapering suddenly to a tall, straight trunk
wrapped in reddish brown bark,
like a great coat of gentle fur,
gracefully sweeping boughs,
soft feathery fronds of grey-green needles.

Huge, some of these cedars,
five hundred years of slow growth,
towering from their massive bases.

Across the grain it cuts clean and precise.
It is light in weight and beautiful in color,
Reddish brown when new,
Silvery grey when old.

When steamed, it will bend without breaking.
It will make houses and boats
and boxes and cooking pots.
Its bark will make mats, even clothing.
With a few bits of sharpened stone and antler,
some beaver teeth and a lot of time,
with later a bit of iron,
you can build from the cedar tree
the exterior trappings of one of the world’s great cultures.”

— from Out of the Silence, by Bill Reid