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To the root-Cedar-Tree-Sustainability-Nature
To the root-Cedar-Tree-Sustainability-Nature

The cedar 

What would our childhoods be without it, which sheltered our games of hide-and-seek, offered its branches to our swings, or to our feet when we decided to climb higher and higher; without it, which populated the tales that our parents told us at night before going to sleep? It adorns parks, botanical gardens, the promenades of large estates and allotments. It seems that we only know it high and wide, so fast does it grow, majestic, protective, major despite its eternal greenness.

"A cedar that is always green is a people that is always young despite a cruel past".

claims the Lebanese flag, which has chosen the tree as its emblem. And the past of the cedar is just as eventful as that of the peoples of the Near East. It is already one of the protagonists of the myth of the death of Osiris. When the evil Set locked his brother in his sarcophagus, the royal mortal remains floated down the Nile, then upstream to Byblos. There a bush surrounds and protects the coffin, and, mingling with the divine corpse, becomes an imposing cedar, the backbone of the God. Later, the sarcophagi of the pharaohs and the richest Egyptians were carved from the essence, as a promise of eternal life. The Pharaohs' cedar would later become Solomon's cedar, a nickname given to Chateaubriand in reference to the king who had the first temple built in Jerusalem. Its construction lasted seven years, with Solomon sending nearly thirty thousand woodcutters to cut hundreds of trees in the forests of Lebanon. The reputation of the cedar is such, its wood so noble, so inalterable, its perfume so pleasant, that the essence almost dies.

The first victim of deforestation is the cedar, despite the threats of Emperor Hadrian who, much more concerned about the environment than Bolsonaro, passed a law in 125 AD to put an end to abusive cutting.

Alas, not even Hadrian can do anything about it when the Church encourages people to live in houses with cedar beams, which are as rot-proof as souls should be against corruption. If cedars grace our parks, it would take centuries for the forests to become what they were before the ships, the temples, the houses.

At the root of these trees, familiar to our Western wanderings, the early 18thème century. When explorers, botanists and wealthy people travelled to bring back the rarest seeds and compete with the gardens of other privileged people. Cedars from Lebanon, but also from the Atlas, with its blue foliage, or from the Himalayas, rising higher than its cousins, were planted as early as 1720 to arrive in our 21th century. And allow us to admire these great trees that shelter our confidences, our prayers, our kisses or our picnics. Because the tabular shapes that the tops take on with age give the cedars an air of a house with a leafy roof, under which to suspend time and rediscover the memory of our ancestors. The Celts, for example. When the forests were so dense that the sky and the stars could not be seen, the Celts observed the trees rather than the constellations. The cedar tree represented longevity and revelation. It was the tree of knowledge and supreme justice, and those born under its sign were considered visionaries. You might come back from a stop at the foot of a cedar tree with clearer ideas, sharper intuitions, or at least with your nostrils more alert to the delights of nature.

Each month, we introduce you to an essence. Its legends, its properties, and the relationship it has had with civilisations over time. The destiny of humans has always been linked to the environment in which they were born, which allowed them to survive and prosper. At the Root is a story to be read against a tree and never forgotten. And as it is a story for children and children like pictures, the writer Mélanie Chappuis has surrounded herself with the photographer Cedric Bregnard to illustrate her lines, who has been looking at nature, its cycles and its metamorphoses, with wonder for many years.

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