I think humans have always had a fascination with trees. Stories like The Lord of the Rings made trees come alive, and I cannot even begin to name the old legends, myths, and fantasy stories that include some sort of mystical tree– or even more often– a human being turned into a tree. This time of the year especially, trees show a kaleidoscope of colors that create picturesque scenery that people travel miles to see. The great sequoias in California are on our bucket list and we can’t wait for the opportunity to witness those famous giants first hand… as if I didn’t feel small enough already!
My favorite fantasy novels and old classics combined with an unspeakable beauty trees present in every day life have made me somewhat of a tree hugger. Because let’s face it, I like to see how small I really am when I struggle to embrace a tree, and I know everyone has probably tried in their lifetime for one reason or another. And if I’m not a tree hugger, par-say, I am a tree lounger- I’ve lounged in many and underneath the shade of many, always mesmerized by the break of light flashing through the leaves. Now will you find me hugging a tree with a bulldozer bearing down on me…. well no, probably not. But I do think of Fern Gully sometimes and wonder… 😉
Today I said goodbye to an old tree friend. He was a Mulberry tree and knew how to hold me perfectly when I was younger. At the age of eight or so, we had a hammock that he helped hold up. I remember the clinking of the metal hooks as I swung back and forth. The white rope of the hammock sometimes dug into my skin uncomfortably, but there was something so lulling about being rocked back and forth under the sun that I didn’t really mind. My old tree friend also became the holder of my very first and only wooden swing. It was a simple rope and wooden board- it was perfect. I always felt a little guilty for the rivets the rope eventually carved into his branch, but he only ever slightly creaked. He just stood there proudly holding up me and my swing. And when we didn’t use him for anything at all, he would hold me himself. I would climb up on to his lowest branch and straddle his trunk with my legs, his branch arching steadily allowing me a comfortable reclining position. I would spend hours scraping moss off his bark, desperately wanting to make him pretty and free of parasites. Whether or not that actually did anything, well, my ten-year-old self thought it was worth the effort. Our Mulberry also allowed us to hang bird feeders off his branches, which gave us opportunities to watch all sorts of wildlife wander to his domain and take our offerings. Throughout its life, Mr. Mulberry became a focal point of our attention whether we realized it or not. When other trees fell, he was still there in his little spot in the yard, and hung on to life with all that he had.
Yesterday I solemnly partook in his passing. While M probably enjoyed using the chainsaw and I had moments of anxiety watching the falling branches barely escape his head; I quietly reminisced and told a few anecdotes about him. I’ve always been drawn to the symbols of trees, of all their endearing qualities, but I also have always been reverent of their exuberant life and endless giving. The Mulberry tree was at its life’s end and looked like only a dreary shadow of its fruitful years.
I just couldn’t help but think how trees are gifts that keep on giving over time, only asking for a place to plant their roots and patience for them to grow strong. But more than anything, I thought how sad it can be to see such a magnificent thing fall.
At the end of the day, I just ended up being a tree hugger and a little sappy (oh hey see what I did there… but really).
And can we just stop for a moment and admire the grandoise march of the ents. Yes I’m nerdy, and no I don’t care. I’ve pretty much just accepted it. Plus, I need to get in the spirit for watching the new Hobbit movie… 😉
2 thoughts on “The Story of a Tree-Hugger”
I’m sorry to hear you’ve lost an old friend. I had always assumed the trees I grew up with would outlive me (200+ year lifespan for many of them), but Hurricane Sandy last year and other storms have proven me wrong. My children really feel for the trees (they’re even sad when they lose leaves, which I’ve mentioned in a couple of recent posts). I can’t even imagine how upset they’ll be when they learn that we’re cutting down the silver maple in the back (it’s dying and right next to the house).
It is always strange to me when I outlast a tree as well. I can remember feeling the same way your daughters do now when I was that young. It was weird because I was blown away by how sad I actually got- those youthful experiences obviously made an impact. I definitely wasn’t expecting it! But, best of luck with your daughters when it comes to cutting down your maple tree. 🙂