The Rigor Mortis Of A Tree

Kruger Park, Trees, Letitia Matthews, Zebra on my stoep, wildlife, nature, South Africa, worshipI have photographed so many dead trees over the years.   I find that there is always something fascinating about their posture and beauty – even in death.  When I was working in Murchison, I once stopped to capture the solemn beauty of a giant dead tree and I wondered why it had not been chopped down and used to fuel much needed fire to warm water and cook food.  Members of my team explained to me that the tree had been struck by lightning and that a tree that meets such a dramatic fate is always left alone as it is considered to be cursed, and using it would bring misfortune on the perpetrator.

I have often heard people express regret over viewing the dead bodies of loved ones – especially since those bodies are sometimes left in unnatural/ sad poses once Rigor Mortis sets in.  I saw this tree in Kruger Park this week and it occurred to me that I have never seen a dead tree with an awful pose… invariably they are immortalised with their bare arms lifted up to the sky, as if in worship of the One who gave them life in the first place.

I hope that one day when my life ends, my scarred remains and hopefully the legacy I leave behind, will testify to the incredible faithfulness of the One who created me and sustained my life against many odds.  Until then I will continue to capture the beauty of dead giants that even in death, stand tall and testify to the great life that they were able to live.  I will continue to stop and appreciate the “legacy” they leave behind as they still cast shadows where creatures find shade, I will admire the beauty of the weary bird travellers who take rest and shelter in their empty arms, and I will take the time to observe the insects that find nutrition and life in these massive monuments.

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