Friday, November 20, 2020

Thanksgiving Thoughts From a Tree Hugger


  Outdoors is my Happy Place and I’ve never loved it more than now, in these months and months of Covid. Thanksgiving is coming up and with so much that brings us joy closed to us, I am beyond thankful for the time we can spend in safety outside. 

  I have always had a special relationship with trees.  

  Growing up in a Wisconsin oak forest,  I cached books in a secret knot hole and read the hot summer hours away on a broad branch. My skinny young back supported by the strong rough-barked trunk, a tree was for me a perfect hideaway for daydreaming of the life I planned to have.


 In the fall I stockpiled acorns and fought silly acorn wars with my friends.  

  The older I got, the higher I ventured into the canopy. 


I still have a scar from the time daring exceeded ability and I fell to the ground, impaling my forearm on a stick.  It didn’t dim my affinity for being a tree hugger one bit then and now I live in a Southern place with new trees to discover, new arboreal friends to make.  The behemoth  above is a favorite — a live oak so old that I can’t even imagine its age.  

  So many trees in the South are not lone sentinels in the woods but a host, a jungle gym for the amazing vines that grow here.  

    This oak supports a whole world of plant life — resurrection ferns, vines, and mosses, including the ethereal and iconic Spanish moss.

  Trees give shelter and support to spiders, insects, fungi, birds, and small mammals in, under, and on themselves.  



  They grow in funny shapes, to accommodate insects and their tree neighbors.  Can you see the deer head silhouette this branch has taken on?

Or the complete circle here?

  Trees communicate through a complex system in their underpinnings beneath the ground and are sensitive to and supportive of the other trees growing around them.  They clean the air, shelter from the wind, moderate temperature, provide oxygen and food, calm the soul, home wildlife, heal patients, herald the seasons, reduce violence in cities.  I always feel better after a day spent deep in the presence of these old and gentle souls.  

  My tree climber days may be over but am still a tree hugger, an enthusiastic appreciator of the beauty of trees. 


  1. Such a lovely essay on the importance of trees. I worry about the Tongass National Forest and the ancient trees there that will be cut down, the plant and animal life that will be desecrated. So sad.

  2. You are so right about the trees. My favourites are the huge old oaks in Greenwich Park. I could gaze at them for hours. I am full of gratitude that I am able to still visit and appreciate them. To

  3. Those are such interesting, beautiful trees. I climbed trees when I was young too. In my case, it was a tall mango tree. I had to go out a window from the living room, climb onto the garage and then shimmy up the tree. If my mother ever found out, she'd probably have had a heart attack.
    You punctured your arm? Yiiiikes!

  4. Dear Cynthia, this was a lovely posting. I was so glad to learn about you as a child and the affinity for trees that was so apparent even then. Thank you for sharing that and also for the photographs of these distinctive and distinguished trees. I think there is now a book available about the community that exists within the trees of a forest or wooded area. Not sure of the name, but I know that it got rave reviews iin 2019 and I think I have it on my "wish" list at the library.

    Like you, I used to lie on a thick branch and read. My branch was one on an old apple tree that sat next to our driveway out in the country. It was there, sitting on that branch, my legs dangling, that I dreamed--as you did--of what would be. What a blessing a tree is. Peace. -

  5. Nice explanation of why you're a tree hugger.

  6. Wide and tall, marvellous looking trees and you peeking through gives the size.
    Take care.

  7. You learned me a whole new way to look at a tree!

  8. Life without trees would be unthinkable for me. Without going into great detail I had a truly miserable childhood and would climb trees to watch birds, and always wished I could fly away to freedom with them.

  9. Those are some amazing trees! :) Sitting outside in 30 degree weather was good today:)

  10. I love trees as well! The bigger the better.

  11. What a lovely read with splendid photos to illustrate it. I remember that I used to hug trees when I was quite young - I don't think anyone ever suggested it to me, it just seemed the natural thing to do.

  12. What wonderful shots, after all, nature never ceases to amaze. Great places, great way to take a break from a pandemic ...

  13. This is your best post ever!! Those trees are amazing! I love trees too and always have. Your falling from a tree reminded me of the time my cousin and I climbed a tree with our dolls in our arms. We were both sitting on the same limb holding our dolls when the limb broke. We rarely see each other now but, still laugh about that time. I remember those big old trees hanging full of Spanish Moss down near Charleston. Cynthia, you write beautifully!

  14. I love oaks. Your photos are so beautiful. I just took a walk in the woods today. Trees are so healing.