My love affair with trees began when I was six years old. We moved from our public housing apartment to our first home. In the back yard was a huge maple tree, my first friend. She stood watch outside my bedroom window. At night, the moonlight and my tree made shadows dance on my wall to remind me that I was not alone. In summer, my tree provided shade for Mother and me to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a blanket at lunchtime. My first puppy tried to build a relationship with my tree by peeing on her above ground roots as she played in the yard.
My current morning walking trail is tree lined. The variations in size, color, age and stage of bloom still fascinate me. Each day they prove the power of the familiar. The fully dressed pines and spruces and firs are proud to welcome the red maples and white oaks to spring. They shout, “Hurry up! It’s time!” The Sycamores seem to feel they must stand together in order to deemphasize their mottled irregular masses of grey-brown exfoliating bark. They line the street where I live now. The narcissistic cherry blossom trees, aware they don’t have to produce fruit, just look beautiful, try their best to keep their blooms as long as possible.
It took me a while to understand that trees were in this world for more than my pleasure. They produce oxygen, sequester carbon when they are mature enough and prevent erosion during floods and hurricanes. They distill water and produce clouds and accrue solar energy. Trees are the lungs and water tanks of the planet. Yet they are being threatened by our greed and ignorance. They need our protection and love and support.
Kind of sounds like us doesn’t it? Each one of us, significant and special to that for which we were created. Yet some of us are discounted and threatened by greed and ignorance. We need each other’s love and support and protection as well. We must learn not to be afraid to go out on a limb for one another for that is where the fruit is.
I close with a poem and a “tree hug” for you. Joyce Kilmer wrote Trees in 1913. it was later put to music and I played it at one of my last piano recitals. Enjoy.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain?
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.Until next time, remember,
You are not alone.
You are not your circumstances.
You have everything within you to live a purpose-filled life.