Trees I’ve Known and Loved

(originally posted as “Tree Hugs” on April 23, 2018 on Of Love and Light website… more than a year an a half before beginning my “Mother Tree Holds the Stories” fine art series)

You wanna make this girl happy? Skip the jewelry, the fancy dinner, the shopping, the bouquets. I don’t want any of that. Give me an hour with a tree.

Yep, I am one bonafide, since I was born, tree hugger.

It didn’t take long for my spouse to figure out that he wouldn’t be able to win me over with traditional romantic gestures. All I really want is time in nature (plus: time with artwork, meaningful conversation, tea, coffee, and time to read and create) and I am a happy camper.

I’m originally from Oregon, so perhaps it’s not surprising (and both of my grandfathers were in the woodworking industry), but for as long as I can remember—and even before—trees have been my favored connection to nature.

I love mountains and streams and beaches and lakes, but there is nothing as beautiful to me as a tree.

I’ve been told that as a toddler, a walk around the block could take a good half hour or so. I absolutely had to stop at every… single… tree… and give it a hug. I would walk up to it, wrap my arms around it, give it a little pat, and tell the tree, very reassuringly, that I loved it.

In early elementary school, I counted the trees on our 50 x 100 foot city lot. There were 47, each with its own colony of birds and spiders and squirrels and ants, and I loved all of them. Each time one had to be eliminated due to disease or a new landscape plan, I would mourn its loss, not understanding how anyone could choose to say goodbye to the beauty of tree.

I love the story of my parents’ very first Christmas tree. It came with roots, and after the holidays, they planted it in the front yard. As a child, it was decent sized. Today it stands at least twice as tall as the house, a beautiful testament to decades of marriage.

One day, it will have to be taken down, so as not to topple in a windstorm, but I hope when it does have to go, it will be replaced by a lovely evergreen descendant.

I’m not sure why I felt so called to hug every tree and tell it that I loved it as a young child. I can’t imagine I’d heard the term “tree hugger,” but perhaps I had and it influenced me.

I loved the way that brightly colored leaves would fall, and crinkle under my feet. I loved acorns and gingko helicopter seeds and chattering squirrels and the color of poisonous berries. I loved that a branch could hold a swing, or offer shade.

As I grew, I loved to climb into the crick of a low-hanging tree with a book, and settle my back against the bark, and read for hours. I smile just thinking about the soft rustle of leaves and dancing shadows.

To this day, there are few things that can capture my attention like a tree. The silhouette of a bare deciduous tree in the wintertime gets me every time. I am terrible at identifying trees—I don’t know bark patterns or leaves, but I notice them.

If you see me walk by a tree, and I’m on my own, or meandering with my kids, you still might see me give it a hug. Or take a photo or trace its wrinkles, or whisper my questions about what it’s seen, or simply smile and offer my gratitude for the exchange of air, and the interconnectedness of life. I marvel at root systems that refuse to be confined by gates of concrete, and look up every evening to see how the light strikes the leaves differently with the close of each day.

Often, when I sit down to sketch or doodle, it is a tree that unwittingly comes out. Often when I’m compelled to take a photo, it’s a tree that is calling me. Trees nourish my creative spirit, and so, in this incredible creative digital community, I wanted to offer a view of some of my favorite reasons to relish the analog.

(And by some, I mean just a peek. I have *thousands* of photos of tree and trunks. I eventually had to stop myself from looking through any more to post and call it a day. Fair to say, don’t be surprised if trees continue to make an appearance around here!)