Beneath the Surface

 |  March 22, 2023

“Trees do not preach learning and precepts. They preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.” – Herman Hesse

Beneath the Surface by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Bridgette Guerzon Mills, Beneath the Surface, encaustic mixed media, 24×12 inches

Beneath the Surface is another piece that I reworked. Before I started I had a very clear idea and plan of what I wanted the piece to become. ..and that totally did not happen. The process for my mixed media encaustic pieces are very much a call and response type of intuitive process. So my “plans” hardly ever pan out. But I like working like that with mixed media pieces. There’s always a what if question involved. A sense of possibility.

I’ve been reading The Understory by Robert Macfarlane and there’s a section of course about the fungal networks underground that connect life to life, trees to other trees. The plant life and the fungal life work together to grow and live and complete the cycle of life.

“Hypahe will be growing into the decomposing matter of this half-rotting leaf…into those rotting logs and those rotting twigs, and then you’ll have the mycorrhizal fungi whose hyphae will grow into hot spots- all of them frothing and tangling and fusing, making a network that’s connecting holly to holly but also to this beech, and to a seedling of something else over there, layering and layering and layering – until, well, it blows your computational brain!” p101

And then above ground we humans also have a mutual relationship with trees. We breathe in the oxygen they create and they take in our carbon dioxide. Simply put, without trees and plant life, we could not live. You would think that we would see, if not the sacredness, but at the very least the importance of our trees and plant life. The reaction this week to the report on climate crisis shows otherwise, however.


One thing that strikes me as I read this book and when I’ve read Robin Wall Kimmerer’s writings is that the idea of survival of the fittest as the law of how life survives and thrives isn’t the absolute rule as I remember being taught in grade school. It’s actually the more ancient and long abiding mutual relationships that seem to be the most enduring and the most vital. Below ground and above ground. And trees seem to be at the center. hmmmm.

If only we could tune back into the balance of reciprocity.

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

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