content='index,follow' name='robots'/> Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom: Trees and Private Courage

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Trees and Private Courage

(Photos by Microsoft Clipart) ~~ How many of you have walked along a path in the park or through the woods and felt the energy of nature. The aliveness of life is fresh and soothing as you hear the birds singing and smell the earth as you put one foot in front of the other. And then...there are the trees standing tall with light streaming down through their branches.

I love trees no matter what size, no matter what type. It always gives me a twinge whenever I hear someone having to clear their land and cut down trees. A part of me aches for the trees. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because they are rooted and cannot run for their lives.

I read this beautiful little book by Kent Nerburn called, Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life. In it he talks about making friends with trees no matter where he lives. He finds we have so much in common with them. Here is what he says,

“They have their feet on the ground, their heads in the sky. They respond to the movement of the wind, the changes of the season. They have moods, aridities, joys. They like company.

In their scale they are perhaps our most intimate companions; their lives are understandable in years, not aeons; their size in feet, not miles. We can watch them grow, give forth their fruit, send forth their young. We can touch them without feeling alien, or as if we are violating their wildness. We sense their private courage.”

I’m a tree hugger. I remember one time, when I was working as a loan officer for mortgages, I would walk around my neighborhood getting to know my neighbors and leaving a door hanger with a little gift and postcard soliciting my services. I called it my walk-abouts. Because we live in the mountains you don’t see all the homes tucked away down a lonesome lane or up a long, wooded driveway passing by in a car as you do when you’re on foot.

So, I picked this asphalt driveway. It looked nice with an open gate and a stone entryway. I started walking, and then hiked as this driveway turned into a road and took many twists and turns taking me up higher through trees and rock outcroppings. I had walked in almost a mile when the road opened up to valleys all around and more trees and I could see below to the highway. It was beautiful but I was wondering where this road was leading me.

As I continued walking, I came upon this strangely shaped tree just off the asphalt. It almost looked like an adult pine tree shaped similar to a bonsai and, as I approached, it seemed to call to me. I stood and admired it and it communed with me without words. I put my arms around it and hugged it and felt its strength and “private courage” as Kent Nerburn said in the passage above.

I continued on and at the end the road turned into a circle drive with a beautiful log home rising up like The Ponderosa with its separate mother-in-law home to the side and an outdoor, colored rubber basketball court against the huge outcroppings. I thought I’d come upon a mansion. No one was home and their Rottweiler guard dog was a little suspicious of me.

I left my door hanger while keeping an eye on their dog and made my way back down the road happy with my adventure and over taken with the majestic beauty before my eyes. I greeted the uniquely shaped tree in passing on my way down and thanked it for the energy it shared with me that day.

I’d often contemplated what they might have thought, if they had security cameras, seeing this "crazy" lady walking up their road, hugging a tree, talking to their dog and leaving a door hanger. Not long after that I no longer worked in the mortgage industry and they closed their gates and I honored that. What a shame that door closed.

At least I know of a beautiful home not far from mine that is embraced with a curiously wonderful tree that I might have an occasion to see again on some other opportunity, perhaps on another adventure.

If you get a chance – hug a tree. You might be surprised by their warmth and energy and willingness to commune and share secrets – captured by their private courage.

Hope you'll come back for another visit. You're welcome to sit with us at the kitchen table. You can sign up for free!

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Barbara Swafford said...

Hi Pat,

What a beautiful story, written so well, I could see and feel all you had written about...including you hugging that tree. teehee.

Our business (excavation) puts us in a position where we see trees come down - in the name of progress, or because of fire danger. It is sad to see that, but on the other hand it's even more sad when someone loses their home due to a fire because they didn't create a "fire barrier", or have a shake roof (which is great fuel for forest fires.

I like it when we are able to save most of the trees from coming down, but yet the home is protected in case of a fire.

Patricia Singleton said...

I love trees. I have always told my husband that I will go where he goes as long as there are trees. I feel a very strong connection to trees. Being around them seems to be very healing. When we moved to our current home 8 years ago, I walked out in the yard and introduced myself to each of the big trees in our yard. We have a young pecan tree and a number of big oaks that may be 100 years old or more. I almost envy you living in the country. We live in the middle of a small, busy city.

Pat said...

Barbara - thank you for your kind thoughts and comments.

I can understand what you mean about fire from living in the mountains and keeping a clearance around our homes.

A few years ago we had a series of fires and it's devastating when animals are lost and homes are destroyed.

The High Meadow fire came within a 1/2 mile from our home and we could see the flames. All it would have taken would have been a shift in the wind and it would have not been good. After that the Hayman fire which destroyed over 100,000 acres.

There's the harmony of appreciating and living with nature - hugging a tree is a little thing but huge in terms of spiritually connecting to the whole.

I'm glad you could picture what I wrote in that story. It was an interesting experience.


Pat said...

Patricia - I can picture you going to every tree and introducing yourself. I'll bet since then you've felt a gentle strength around your home from their acknowledgement.

I haven't thought of doing that but it's a good idea. We have mostly pine trees on our property - around 20 trees. Some of them have taken their strikes from the storms and have scars to show for it.

Yes, they are our gentle giants. I love them too.

Pat said...

Patricia - thank you for your mention of this article on trees in your recent post on Gratitude.

I'm happy and thankful that we're able to inspire each other.

Jirel said...

Hi Pat,

Interesting post. I also like trees but here is no much trees in city. We have to travel about an hour to see many trees as like the one in the picture of this post. However,There are trees everywhere in village.
I haven't felt the strength of the trees- may be I will walk again by the trees and try to feel though I have lived in village and have seen many trees.
At last, I hope the gate of the house will open again and you could go to see and hug that tree.

Pat said...

Hi Jirel - thanks for stopping by and commenting on trees.

Our forests and trees are different here in the Rocky Mountains than they are on the East Coast of the U.S. and here we have a lot of openness.

If you're open to the possibility and explore your feelings when you walk in a park or travel to the village where there are more trees, I think you'll sense what I'm talking about.

I'm interested in what you discover. Let me know.

Love your feedback and interest and hope you'll come back and tell us what you found.