Strength in Trees

Polson woods 141Trees shaped my childhood, I loved to climb them, sit in the branches, hug them and feel their life flow. Trees give me a sense of belonging and peace. I enjoyed playing in or around trees when I was a child. I had many favorite spots in the woods all around my childhood farm. A childhood landscape becomes imprinted on a person. I am able to tap into trees’ life source, their strength and be comforted and renewed by them.

As a child, trees were more than just woody plants, they were like guardians watching over me and teaching me, giving me strength and allowing me to discover who I was.  When I was feeling lonely, sad or just down, I would seek a tree to climb and be comforted by its embrace and find strength in its branches.

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Memories of my childhood include specific trees, each with a very distinct memory, like people one remembers. A white pine next to the drive way, I used to sit against just to think and be still. My siblings and I spent many hours of our childhood in a red maple, named “the favorite climbing tree”. We often played in the shade of several silver maples in the pasture, and finally figured out how to climb one of them. There was a cottonwood tree that stood off by itself from the rest of the cottonwoods, the only one with a branch low enough for us to climb. A rotting limb of a basswood broke as I climbed out on it, the branch and I plummeted to the ground. A red cedar near the house had branches like a ladder for us to climb all the way to the top. We escaped to another red cedar by the garden after helping weed or plant for awhile. My brother, our cousin and I climbed into a decaying sliver maple to get out of the wind. A fig tree in the house became a jungle for our Lego men. We climbed white pine on the edge of the orchard, lying like leopards on their massive branches. Black spruce trees on either side of the house were a constant presence in our childhood. We had a favorite oak tree in the pasture, where we could straddle a branch and jump, springing up and down with our legs.

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Now, I reach up and grab the lowest branch, hoisting myself up, feet pushed against the trunk for lift, my arms doing the brunt of the work pulling me up. Once in the tree, climbing from branch to branch is much easier. I like to climb up as high as I can go in a tree. I find the most comfortable limb to sit on, often with my back against the trunk or sometimes my side is against the trunk and I give it a half hug. Other times, on a larger limb and depending on its positioning, I lay on the limb with my belly and chest pressed against it, legs wrapped around it, resting my chin or cheek against my hands on top of the branch. I am content in the tree for hours. Sometimes thinking, but most often feeling. Sensing the tree’s energy course through me, with the renewal quality I find in trees my soul is refreshed. Feeling the strength of the tree in its embrace, strong yet safe, like a father or grandfather’s hug. A tree is sturdy and strong, yet gentle and reassuring like a lover. I have never climbed out of a tree because I was tired of being in it; I only get down because a demanding world calls me back.

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