The afternoon is slow and so as everyone begins to disperse, I leave Kirpal and venture to check out a farm close by with a friend who lives in the area. “I want you to see it, I want you to experience it,” my friend tells me about the property. I start to wonder what he means by experience it. Other than the bountiful collection of vegetation of the farm, what more is there to witness, to feel?
Chris, the owner greets us with a smile from his mouth and eyes. He lights up with our desire to attain a tour on the land he up keeps. This is the navel orange tree, he says then guides us towards cacao, coffee, cloves, cinnamon, mangosteen, avocado. I stand under the avocado plant and smile up at it. My favourite fruit, quite oddly my favourite food, in all its glory in the place it thrives. Living in a city, I feel so disconnected from my food. Where it grows, how it thrives, what climate it likes most. Have you ever seen an avocado plant in Canada? I haven’t. The way the thin branches hold the fruit reminds me of how a mother’s umbilical cord attaches to her unborn child.
Chris pulls off a couple fruits that are nearly ripe. “Put these in the sun to ripen,” he tells me. As we wander through the groves, carefully trodden paths that are noticed easily with wild barriers on either side, I start to feel easy. Every time we stop in front of a tree and he introduces it I take mental note of the leaf design, the colour scheme, the shape of the fruit. It is a conversation I start to feel I am having. Not just with Chris who is our tour guide through the lush forest but with the nature itself.
I used to think that nature was different from us because it doesn’t breathe. But think about the life cycle of trees. In winter, when the leaves fall away, the tree is still absorbing oxygen and releasing what we breathe as carbon dioxide but just less of it. In the spring when things start again to bloom, oxygen is released at a greater capacity. The out breathe and the in breathe that differentiates the living and dead.
Studies have already shown that speaking to plants increases their crop productivity and greatly enhances the plant’s health, so why don’t we believe they are real. Living, breathing. Maybe it’s because they don’t move. They sit in the stillness and silence, completely at peace with what is. We do the same, in our yoga practice, in moments of reflection, contemplation. We could all learn a lot from not just from nature but from trees. The gentle way they are aware of everything yet stay firmly rooted. The patience of which they bear their fruit. The long moments of rest. Of rejuvenation. Their slow, but consistent growth.