In the Time of
The Lime Trees
There are lime trees lining the Highway leading from Jeszkotle to Kieice. They looked the same at the beginning, and they will look the same at the end. They have thick trunks and roots that reach deep into the earth, where they meet the foundations of everything that lives. In winter their mighty boughs cast sharp shadows onto the snow and measure the hours of the short day. In spring the lime trees put out millions of green leaves that bring sunlight down to the earth. In summer their fragrant flowers attract swarms of insects. In autumn the lime trees add red and brown to the whole of Primeval.

Like all plants, the lime trees live an eternal dream, whose origin lies in the tree's seeds. The dream does not grow or develop along with it, but is always exactly the same. The trees are trapped in space, but not in time. They are liberated from time by their dream, which is eternal. Feelings do not grow in it, as they do in animals' dreams, nor do images appear in it, as they do in people's dreams.

Trees live thanks to matter, by absorbing juices that flow from deep in the ground and by turning their leaves to the sunlight. The tree's soul rests after going through many existences. The tree only experiences the world thanks to matter. For a tree, a storm is a warm-and-cold, idle-and-violent stream. When it gathers, the whole world becomes a storm. For the tree there is no world before or after the storm.

In the fourfold changes of the seasons the tree is unaware that time exists and that the seasons come in succession. For the tree all four qualities exist at once. Winter is part of summer, and autumn is part of spring. Cold is part of hot, and death is part of birth. Fire is part of water, and earth is part of air.

To trees people seem eternal --- they have always been walking through the shade of the lime trees on the highway, neither frozen still nor in motion. For trees people exist eternally, but that means just the same as if they had never existed.

The crash of axes and the rumble of thunder disturb the trees' eternal dream. What people call their death is just a temporary disruption of the dream. What people call the death of trees involves coming closer to the anxious existence of animals. For the clearer and stronger consciousness becomes, the more fear there is in it. But the trees never reach the kingdom of anxiety occupied by animals and people.

When a tree dies, its dream that has no meaning or impression is taken over by another tree. That is why trees never die. In ignorance of their own existence, they are liberated from time and death.

--- From Primeval and
Other Times

Olga Tokarczuk
Antonia Lloyd-Jones,

(Twisted Spoon)
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