By Sam M.
I was particularly struck by the ambiguities in the “vines in disguise” – the yellow-leafed cords clinging to the bare bones of those once thriving trees that Mr. McAteer pointed out at the close of our journey. Why bother killing a tree and gradually choking its perennial verdure only to replace it with another set of leaves; those of the vine? I believe the vine’s mentality will backfire one day. Don’t those malicious beings eventually lose their will, their vigor, and their inspiration? Once the tree is dead and that fresh source of life is exhausted, what happens next?
On a cautionary note; perhaps we shouldn’t try to glean too much insight from a single source. I don’t remember who said this, (was it Borges? Aristotle? Someone else? Please comment if you do remember.) but the point was made that the first reading of a poem is the purest and the most beneficial one. If we overstay our welcome with a particular work, perhaps our sharpest original insights will begin to fade and become marred as we worry about whether our initial impressions were really valid. The “vines in disguise” have fully absorbed and adopted the identity of the trees they have strangled. The living presence of the original tree has obviously faded, and along with that presence, the fresh nutrients and everyday benefits that came with it.
Perhaps the dead tree with the vine around it could one day end up like this:
It’s like the metaphor, but with a vine wrapped around it! One day, years and years from now, that dead tree will no longer be able to stand, and it will be the fault of the vine. I can just imagine coming back to visit in a couple of years and seeing that poor tree uprooted on its side, killed and overused by the vine, and no longer able to uphold even its meager skeleton. All will fall, tree and vine together. No, “nothing gold can stay;” especially if it is abused or neglected. Life, purity, and insight… all fade away in the end unless they are able to stand on their own.
The vines have disguised themselves because they wanted to reap nutrients from those dying trees; but really, they are doing themselves a disservice. In nature, life, and literature, there’s always a time to move on. Find yours, and don’t be greedy.
A crevice in the side of New Canaan High School might be a safer place for permanent residence, for any vines who might be reading this.