Tag Archives: Trees

Have You Hugged Your Tree Today?

Why do I love trees? Maybe because I was born where a tree flourishes on the town’s courthouse clock tower. No, I am not making that up. The town fathers of Greensburg, Indiana, keep the mulberry trimmed, but they can’t bring themselves to remove it.

I also come from a long line of tree huggers who celebrated them when “green” was only a color. Not that I loved my parents’ endless Tree Tours. We lived where poplars, maples and beeches zigzagged cornfields’ edges. So why take everlasting Sunday afternoon drives, incarcerated with siblings, just to look at trees? My parents oohed and aahed about spring dogwoods and redbuds as if at a fireworks display. Dad bought us icy cold bottles of Coca Cola — if we spilled a minimum of blood during back seat battles.

Photo by Kim Peterson.

A contractor, Dad avoided tree removal. Rather than chop down a dogwood, he constructed our house’s wooden deck around it. Friends chuckled, not realizing he was setting a major landscaping trend — a few decades early.

I didn’t realize I’d absorbed my parents’ tree fanaticism until we moved to the Oregon desert. Tawny hills surrounding our town looked indecent, bare except for scrubby little pines. Our Midwestern family wondered if we would die of tree starvation. My parents nurtured fast-growing pin oaks like newborns. But I left for college, so they couldn’t grow fast enough for me.

What a relief to return to Indiana University’s wooded campus that exploded into a thousand bouquets every spring! My husband and I later lived in married student housing on aptly named Redbud Hill (aka Roach Hill, but we tried to think positive).

Later, in our house’s backyard, a crabapple’s rosy blossom clouds celebrated our younger daughter’s birthday.

Every spring, I visited a gracious, aunt-like apple tree on our block who, dressed in her fragrant, flowery Sunday best, waved whenever she saw me.

One day, she vanished! I circled the area, hoping by some magic she would emerge among new house studs.

“You expected somebody to build his house around a tree?” Hubby tried to delete his thankfulness that I hadn’t known about Aunt Apple’s removal beforehand. He wouldn’t have relished dragging me away from bulldozers.

I can’t rescue every tree that takes a fall. But this tree hugger can’t help growing grouchy, because it takes even God decades to grow a tree.

Baby trees now flourishing outside my window are, as the biblical psalmist says, clapping their hands at my speech. Thank you, thank you.

Hey, I clap with them. Because the applause belongs to the God of green, without whom none of my forest friends would be possible.

He’s kind of a tree hugger, too.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite springtime tree?

Magic Trees

When I was small, trees were magic. Especially the trees outside our church.

As preschoolers, my brother and I discovered friendly low branches that invited a climb. Every pint-sized Sunday school attendee welcomed that magic.

Moms, however, did not appreciate magic trees — especially mulberries. They transformed starched-white-shirt-and-ruffly-dress VBS populations into glorious, purple-tie-dyed messes.

Trees remained magical throughout my childhood, serving as bases, houses, castles and cathedrals. Schoolyard bike races morphed them into traffic cones. On sweltering days, I stayed within Mom’s sight under our backyard’s shady oak, yet traveled thousands of miles as I devoured library books.

Now an adult, I have planted trees that infuse oxygen into our atmosphere, provide shade and enhance property values. But I hadn’t visited magic trees for a long time.

Until our extended family’s campout, when sullen clouds alternately spat on us and poured rain like a waterfall.

Thanks to yummy pancakes and sausage, the group survived the morning. When rain held off, older kids found plenty to do. But as parents of a five-year-old and his three-year-old foster brother tried to fix a group lunch, the little boys seemed destined for war.

Anyone with sense would have run for a bomb shelter. But I am Grandma. Edging them out of range, I blurted, “Let’s visit magic trees!”

Perhaps the skeptical three-year-old had seen too much to believe in magic. But he followed his brother and me to an empty campsite, where the five-year-old beat on a maple with a stick.

He chortled, “Now the tree’s awake!”

I’d wake up, too, if clobbered with a six-foot cudgel. “What’s the tree saying?”

“He says I should visit a different tree.”

Smart maple.

By now, the three-year-old was a believer, too. We awakened all the empty campsite trees. Some also told us to visit different trees. But several told stories about nesting birds and skittery squirrels. Special trees talked only when tapped the perfect number of times. Then they whispered tales understood only by the chlorophyll crowd and preschoolers.

One oak interrupted, “Time to eat. I’ve been calling you for ten minutes.”

Correction: Hubby had entered the land of magic trees.

Instantly, my fellow adventurers dashed for the dining tent.

“Couldn’t you have waited?” I said irritably. “That tree was just about to tell us whether they make a noise when they fall.”

He rolled his eyes, as if barbecued chicken and macaroni salad could compensate for his breaking the sweet spell.

The five-year-old and I could visit magic trees again. However, court dates threatened to keep the three-year-old from adventuring with us.

But for one misty summer morning, he talked with magic trees.

I pray he will do it again.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you visited magic trees lately?