Loving Trees

08/17/2013

tree_canopy smAll my life, as far back as I can remember, I have felt a connection with trees. I’ve grasped trunks and branches during youthful climbs and wondered how my hands felt to them. I felt their surface as rough, crumbly, sticky in places with sap, and I wondered if they felt me climbing them as warm, human, fleeting, soft.

One of my earliest memories regarding my family involved a tree. A very tall tree. We lived near the end of a long country road and our yard had a row of tall spruce running along the property line, separating our house and yard from the road. I loved those huge spruce trees and would often climb up to sit, swing and bounce on those sprawling lower branches. For my tiny body of six years those branches made a perfect ladder all the way to the top, and one day I just kept going.

I can still remember the sticky sap that clung to my palms as I reached up to another and then another branch-rung in this ladder to the clouds. That is until the branches were so close together that all I could do was perch on the sturdiest one and hold onto the trunk. It was exhilarating. My heart was happy and excited and I felt so intimately close to that old tree. I felt safe. Cocooned. I even noticed how the breeze made that old tree sway. In my mind it was as if I was nestled in the clouds and I loved it.

spruce_tree 300Then I looked down through the branches and saw my family in the yard: mother gardening, father working on one of his cars, and much older sister preparing to head out in her own car. I could hear them easily and they were starting to ask each other, “Have you seen Gina?” so I unveiled my hiding spot and cheerily called out to them, “Hi Mom! Hi Dad! Hi Sis!” Unfortunately (but predictably) they didn’t think my being 50 feet up in a narrow evergreen quite as enchanting as I did. My Mom went into a screaming state of panic and her fear was palatable. I suddenly gripped that trunk and felt the rush of a powerful fear.

I climbed down with a much more unhappy energy than I’d climbed up with, but I still give thanks for that memory. The trauma from my mother’s fear helped imprint that day, that moment, into my brain to be permanently stored. I loved that tree, that day, the clouds, the breeze, even the sticky and prickly branches, and my mother’s introduction of fear helped sear that day into me so that I would never forget.

Once I became a mother it was easy to forgive and understand my mom’s frantic, scolding actions. While I never experienced looking up a 50-foot tree to see my six-year old child near the top, I can still easily understand her behaviour (although I don’t recommend letting your child SEE your level of panic, if at all possible). Obviously I made it down safely, although the coming down was vastly worse than the going up. I was harshly scolded and forbidden from ever climbing trees again. (Not that it lasted. I discovered an ancient walnut tree as well as a prolific cherry tree at our next home. I figured moving made that ‘No Climbing Trees’ agreement void)

tree roots 350Now mid-life has snuck up on me and those memories are decades old. In my world I now have 50-foot spruce trees on my own property. While I do not feel the urge to push my much-larger body through the branches in an attempt to reach the heights, I feel their roots. I offer love to their roots.

I wonder, is this a part of aging? In my youth I longed for the tip-top branches, swaying in the breeze, and now I respect and appreciate roots where I add compost, occasional fertilizer and water during times of drought.

I myself have put deeper roots down as I cherish these years of my forties. If I may be so lucky this is the halfway point… the true mid-life stage and I intend to show up and put on a good show.

Offering my love and appreciation for the two huge spruce I share this property with is one way I celebrate life. They are old trees, older than I am, and their sprawling shallow roots reach much farther than the drip-line. Their roots might even be under me now as I type in the den facing the street, beside the nearest of the two giant trees as I watch the pattern of the wind in its branches.

If this is the case and the roots are under my feet, may it receive this prayer I offer. May this tree feel my appreciation for the birds it shelters and the shade it offers. May it know those fertilizer spikes I pound in at the drip-line during spring rains are one way I show my love as I attempt to replenish the soil nourishment our city lifestyles rob from urban trees. May it, on some unknown level, feel my loving eyes as I watch its branches from my window and attempt to capture poetic words to describe the beauty I behold. May these old trees, and all the trees in my area and the wilderness walks I enjoy, feel my deep appreciation for them and continue to flourish and share their oxygenating, healing energy with us all.

52 responses to Loving Trees

  1. 

    “I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree” Joyce Kilmer. I share your love for the trees.

  2. 

    Gorgeous Gina… I do adore trees too. Highly symbolic and precious. Hope you’ve been well and our fall here in Alberta holds off a while. Best of wishes to you and yours, Rhonda (Lady Day)

    • 

      Rhonda! Your visit means so much, and I am delighted to hear from you. Yes may this lovely weather continue and the nights not dip to that place yet which triggers the yellowing! Warmest wishes to you and yours as well. Hugs, Gina

  3. 

    What a beautiful blog, thanks so much Gina. Where I live, an Arboretum has recently been planted and I feel like one of the happiest people alive I’m sure when I surround myself with so many trees planted with such hope for the future.
    Best wishes,
    Lucy 🙂

    • 

      Hello Lucy, I know what you mean! I completely agree with how good it feels to walk amongst those vibrant young trees growing into a hopeful future. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. Thank you kindly for sharing such an encouraging comment.
      xo Hugs to you,
      Gina 🙂

  4. 

    We have a beautiful maple tree on our little 5 acre farm I get it. 🙂

  5. 

    I can relate to this post! My childhood trees were the cedars in the backyard, the huge pines across from my grandmother’s and the neighbor’s sprawling willow. I still love trees too but rather than sit on their branches I feel their bark and feel their presence.

    • 

      What wonderful trees you were around! And yes… I can most certainly relate to now feeling their bark and their presence rather than sitting on their branches, like you. Thanks so much for sharing this delightful comment. xo Hugs, Gina

  6. 

    There are many things I admire and respect about you, Gina, but two of my favorites are your love of trees and your love of nature. Thank you for this quite enjoyable post.
    Russ

    • 

      You are so sweet my friend. Thank you! A love of nature and trees is something I believe we have in common, and I can imagine how incredibly amazing are the HUGE trees on your property. Thanks for your always-cherished visit and comment. 🙂 Hugs, Gina

  7. 

    lovely post..I have spent a lot of time climbing trees. Have spent many wonderful afternoons just sitting on them and listening to all the happenings going around…thanks for reminding me of those wonderful times Gina…

    • 

      I love that Sriram…. how you sat in trees and listened to the goings on. I love that kind of memory myself. Thank you so much for this delightful comment. You and your wonderful visits are always appreciated.
      Namaste
      Gina

  8. 

    Gina, I am a tree hugger too! I didn’t have any big climbing trees around when I was a kid but I did have lots of regular tall skinny ones. I’m a nature girl from day one and I can understand your love of trees.
    I’m reading this early on a Sunday morning and it’s a great little spirituality piece! xo Joanne

    • 

      Hello Joanne! I too am awake early on this Sunday morning (just before 5:30 on my part of the globe) and am delighted to have a visit from you. Thank you for this sweet comment! I am so thankful you felt the spirituality in my writing here. Trees are comforting and wise teachers, if we only have the hearts to hear them. Warm and loving hugs to you from a kindred ‘nature girl’ 🙂 xo Gina

  9. 

    I hug trees when no-one is looking. I’m too shy to let anyone see me do it except my little family. 😀

  10. 

    Wonderful message, I also am a great lover of trees and have written a few poems to celebrate how I feel about them! Hugs and blessings!

    • 

      Hello Wendell, thanks so much for this kind comment. I adore all of your poetry, and am not surprised you have directed your focus occasionally to celebrate the beauty and wonder of trees. Thanks again for visiting. Blessings, Gina

  11. 

    I love being surrounded by trees and I always thank them in my mind for exhaling the oxygen that I inhale in and hope they can enjoy the carbon dioxide I breathe out. Might be a strange comparison but I always get this feeling of mutual comfort and sustainment in the company of trees. Does that sound weird? I’m so glad you wrote about loving trees because far too less people enjoy and cherish them for what they are.

    • 

      I love this comment! Thank you Lillian, for sharing a wonderful way to give thanks for trees. When breathing in giving thanks for their oxygen, and when exhaling offer them our carbon dioxide and hoping they enjoy it. I love that! I plan to offer my gratitude to them in that way too. You are such a dear sweet spirit and I truly appreciate your comments, your blog, and You! Hugs, Gina

  12. 

    I SO want to go climb a tree right now. Love to visual of you in the top of that evergreen greeting your family below. Ha! Reaching for the sky even then. Lovely, Gina. Just lovely. Hugs! Jamie

    • 

      Thank you Jamie! What a sweet comment, and I’m so glad you can visualize those wondrous moments because I love that memory. Feeling the tree sway… incredible. And doesn’t that first image just invite crawling up into those wide branches of that lovely deciduous tree? Bless your heart for sharing this sunny note to add cheer to my day! Big hugs, Gina

  13. 

    What a magnificent write up, on a favorite subject of mine! I physically can’t plant trees but donate yearly for this beautiful & necessary act! I love this poem! Thank you sweet friend ~ Faithfully Debbie

    • 

      Hello Debbie! I am delighted that you enjoyed this post. So many of us do not own land or have the space to plant a tree. Your wise example shows us that anyone can help. With warm and gentle hugs sent your way! xo Gina

  14. 

    Lovely piece. My wife loves to use trees as inspiration for her jewellery designs and we both love to walk through the forest near our home.

  15. 

    I love the early memory of your tree – from your perspective (not your mom’s, though I understand her perfectly)! My tree-hugger readers enjoyed this….hope you do too.

    http://aholisticjourney.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/trees-by-joyce-kilmer/

  16. 

    Thanks so much for your support my friend. I know you can imagine the fright of seeing a wee child up so high in a tree. And well put that trees are good at meditating. May we learn from their example. Hugs to you! xo Gina

  17. 

    I so enjoyed this post, trees what a great subject. I empathised with the feeling you got being high up, it is wonderful.
    I had the same tendency to protect my children as they have little thought of danger. Fear needs to be balanced with courage and courage balanced with caution. Most children have good sense of balance and ample courage but little caution or fear. To live without fear is what makes childhood marvellous and to explore all the new experiences.
    Children love trees and most of us never loose that love. Thank you Gina.

    • 

      Thank you Jack for this kind comment. You are so right, fear needs to be balanced. I am indeed lucky that I didn’t fall out of that tree for example, and – as you wisely shared ‘fear needs to be balanced with courage and courage balanced with caution’. We do not want to be reckless or in any way express a disregard for the wondrous gift of life that we have been granted. Thanks so much for visiting and sharing your beautiful comment.

    • 

      Thank you for sharing this amazing post of yours. And that sculpture is gorgeous. My husband and I collect images of trees, and your metal sculpture is especially lovely. The artist really captured the essence of a windblown tree. Thanks again 🙂

  18. 

    Thanks for this. It was like I was climbing that tree with 6 year old you. Which is great because I too am in my 40’s and well,…let’s just say I like to appreciate beautiful trees from the ground. Excellent post! Enjoyed it immensely!

  19. 

    Gina, with the winter winds whipping across Lake Michigan this morning, this beautiful post has significantly warmed me! I was in Gettysburg, PA a few months ago which is an area filled with hallowed ground. I was staring up at the most magnificent tree; someone asked me if I knew what kind of tree it was. Trying to go back in my mind’s filing system about trees, I couldn’t place it. He then told me it was called, “A Witness Tree”. He said that the tree had been there during the Civil War and was therefore considered a witness to history. After his comment, not only did I look at this dear tree with even more reverence, but also thanked the tree for standing firm in spite of its observations. Thank you, Gina, for reminding me of my love for these magnificent wonders!

    • 

      Thank you for this incredibly delightful comment! I’m so glad this post I shared with reverence for trees has warmed your heart as your comment did mine 🙂 . That sounds like an amazing tree, and a special moment to be able to offer thanks to “A Witness Tree”. Very touching. And it has me thinking about how, in a way, we can consider all older trees that tower over our heads to be ‘a witness tree’ and to give thanks for all they have seen and lived through… often since long before we were born. Thank you Cher for reminding me of this post from last summer, and for igniting such a nice exchange. Here’s to trees everywhere!