Language with Heart

October 15, 2015

Think of a tree.

Did you think of a noun?  A trunk with branches and leaves.


If you were a Potawatomi Indian, you would have thought of a verb. To them a tree was alive, so alive it was considered a verb.

‘To be a tree’ was their word for tree.

This new idea prompted a visit to a favorite place of mine– the hammock hooked to the maple near the barn.


Gently swaying,

back and forth. . .

back and forth. . .


I pondered the magnificent noun above me.

Was it a verb?


I forced my mind to expand.

The muscly limbs towered above me stretching higher and higher into the sunshine,


the russet and gold-skirted leaves danced with the wind,


the sugared sap coursed through it’s center like a heart beating sweet,


and the deceptively fragile roots grasped deeper and deeper into dark hushed soil.

Thus, in the verb was. . .



What is the percentage of verbs in the English language?


in the Potawatomi language?


And we came to teach them.



To be a peacock

in the

to be a zinnias.



from your

to be a friend.

Latest Comments

  1. Olivia says:

    This is so beautiful!


  2. cindy knoke says:

    Extremely beautiful. You find the beauty! This is rather rare.


  3. derrickjknight says:

    A post beautiful in every way


  4. Julie@frogpondfarm says:

    I can’t stop smiling .. What magic. We have much to learn . Beautiful photos ..


  5. Jardin says:

    Stunningly beautiful words and imagery.


  6. Pam says:

    This is wonderful.


  7. Jane says:

    Such beautiful photographs and reflections, Julie. From my studies in linguistics I became very interested in how the language we use affects the way we view the world. Your post is a very good example of this. How wonderful to think of a tree in that way…living, being…in the active sense. Thank you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Julie says:

      Hi Jane, Try it on your next hike– not just with trees but with all nouns that you see. The Indians even considered the rocks to have a spirit. It’s been eye opening for me– a whole new way of thinking.Thanks for the nice comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. says:

    Another good one


  9. Becky says:



  10. Eliza Waters says:

    An interesting concept and who is to say which is the ‘correct’ point of view? Traditional western thought is full of flaws. I’ve long thought that plants and animals have spirits, you can feel it and see it.
    Your photos are beautiful, I esp. love the one with the maple behind the barn.


  11. Ida P. Krause says:

    This was a fabulous post. Loved the images and your thoughts too. That one tree is simply stunning with all those gorgeous colors.


  12. annejantz says:

    I will look at the trees in my life with even more respect. What a glorious tribute, Julie!!!


  13. Allison says:

    I love absolutely everything about this.

    Gorgeous. 🙂


  14. says:

    What a beautiful collection of pictures – so many good ones like the nodding sunflowers and the Fall scenes.


  15. Georges 2679 says:

    J’aime beaucoup tes photos…elles sont magnifiques…bon dimanche…


    • Julie says:

      Merci beaucoup.Il y a quarante ans, j’ai pris le français à l’école. Lire vos mots est un excellent travail pour mon cerveau d’âge moyen. À l’exception de merci beaucoup, j’ai utilisé l’internet pour traduire ces paroles écrites en français– nous espérons ce dit ce que j’ai écrit. Merci de visiter mon blog.


  16. janebuttery says:

    Julie I just read this and found the use of verb for a noun interesting. You know when Moses asked God for His name, he said,”I am.” ( at the burning bush) Much later Jesus said to Pilate,”I am who I am.” so the use of the verb can be potent.Like the tree, God is a living God.


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