Go Climb a Tree
On a more personal note , this one is a bit about (little) me and why I am a "treehugger".
In a family of four girls, I was the second middle child. My two older sisters had found their niche early in life. The oldest was a tomboy who played music (mostly the drums) and painted. My second older sister was a flexible ballerina (pretzel) forever showing off her talents as a dancer, gymnast and Chinese contortionist. My younger sister was the baby - "My baby" until she got a mind of her own. As a girl, I was the quiet homebody. Standing on a stool helping in the kitchen or folding warm towels fresh from the dryer were everyday activities for me. I tried impressing my mother with my cleaning talents; getting the finger prints off the door knobs and shining up the window on the oven door. I was content to be mommies little helper.
Other homey activities included time with my kitties and plinking on the piano. In my mind, I was a master of sound and rhythm while hitting the ivory keys. I let my fingers flow, choosing quiet "songs" that flirted with cheerful notes. From my seat at the piano bench I could see the very tall tree across the street. It had a thin trunk that towered over the house it stood in front of. Thin delicate foliage reached out from the trunk with symmetry. It seemed to me that something that tall should simply tip over and hit the ground- but it never did. Part of the enjoyment of playing the piano was looking at this tree. It was these moments that offered time away from busyness and a chance to daydream.
No matter what I was doing indoors - I was always looking outdoors. The windows in the house offered views of various mature trees. I was mesmerized by them as they seemed to happily dance when a light breeze flowed through them. Other times they seemed to fight against gusts of wind and rain . On occasion, a small brown bird would make a nest and I could hear the tiny new birds outside my bedroom window. Rainy days were great, the colors of the trees changed and leaves became shiny.
My Uncle visited on a regular basis; he and my mom had long talks at the kitchen table. I overheard him say once that trees were alive. This was surprising news! He also mentioned (in reference to the tree bark missing on our trees) that trees can feel. Now this was very interesting to me. I began to see trees with new eyes.
Could the trees I had studied - know I existed?
Where they watching me?
I had a mixture of feelings about this. If they could really see me, what thoughts did they have of me? I was not a contortionist, an artist or the cute little baby - I was just me, plain and ordinary. Would they like me? The awkward feelings extended to other areas of my life. Getting dressed in the morning was a chore now, I had to make sure I could not be seen through the curtains. After all, if the trees where alive I couldn't take a chance on them seeing me.
Over time, the anxiousness about the trees lessened and I developed empathy for them. Looking at the pepper tree in my backyard, I noticed how it was stuck. Attatched to the ground and couldn't go anywhere. It had to endure cold nights and rainy days. Never being sheltered but always offering shelter it to others. I liked trees even more now that they were alive. My first sense of kinship was with a tree.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
Feelings of being stuck were something trees and I had in common. I can not recall a day going by without being picked on by my older sisters. The two formed an alliance and it seemed like they were always primed for an attack. One time in particular a favorite television program came on about a musical family. I happily shouted:
"The Partridge Flamily is on!"
A piercing roar of laughter shot out from my sisters.
"F l a m i l y?" they giggled " You dork! That's not how you say it! It's FAMILY."
Feeling small once again, I decided this time I would stick up for myself. Correcting my words and gritting my teeth, I yelled " I meant the Partridge Flamily!" ( I did it... again)
The heat of embarrassment overwhelmed me and I wanted to disappear. I ran outside and sat under the pepper tree; laying down on the cool leafy ground taking refuge under its branches. Then I noticed something I had never seen before - when I looked up to the sky while under the tree I saw the random design of branches coming from the trunk . Light and shadow made the world of the tree seem mystical. A cool breeze blew against my face and I suddenly felt relaxed and safe. .
Not long after that day, I began climbing that pepper tree. When at the tip-top I could see over the roof of my house.
I was as high as the sky!
I was the tallest person in the world!
It was the strongest I had ever felt in my life. I began climbing any tree that would offer it's branches to me. I don't escape into the sky anymore but the peace and sense of tranqulity trees gave me then, I still experience today. Each tree is unique and beautiful - I urge you the next time you see one, look at it with new eyes and discover what it has to offer you.
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