Trees Are Signs of Life
Our Great Teachers
I have always loved trees, no matter where I lived. Each place had its own trees that caught my attention and admiration- whether it was the Baobab trees where I grew up in West Africa, the Oak trees and Dogwood of Arkansas, the yellow flowering Araguaney trees and coconut palms of Venezuela, or the Cocora palms and bamboo thickets of Colombia.
Trees mean many things to many people-perhaps you'll find the meaning that you ascribe to trees here: For most people trees represent growth and strength, as they reach to the sky, growing stronger with each season.
Resilience and Resourcefulness
Trees represent resilience for me. Most any tree, if it could speak, would tell of terrible storms that sought to break its will and snuff out its life. Trees stand as monuments to the strength and resilience that we all possess in the face of adversity.
Trees provide mankind with multiple sources of protection-from the wood with which we build our homes and burn in our fireplaces to provide warmth in the winter, to the intricate web of root systems that hold our soil in place. They also provide wonderful sources of nourishment. I remember the avocado tree, banana trees and mango trees of my childhood in Africa. It always amazed me that we didn't have to do anything to get these wonderful foods-they just grew on these amazing trees, waiting to be enjoyed.
Trees teach us about being resourceful, as they find a way to grow, even on the face of a mountain, with little soil or nourishment. I was amazed at Yosemite National Park to see trees growing from rocks, their roots reaching deep into cracks and crevices seeking moisture. If only we were as resourceful in finding what we need to survive, and in doing without all the things we think we need to be happy.
Trees are home for many species-birds, squirrels and many other animals share their need for trees for a safe place to lay their eggs and watch their little ones grow. They provide great places to hide from predators, and a place to rest during long winters.
The Trees of Our Childhood
Trees represent fun to many people, in the form of tree houses and tire swings hung from strong limbs. I have memories of playing under a large oak tree in my grandparents' backyard in South Arkansas. There I created a small town, using pebbles to line the streets, juice cartons for houses, and moss for the grass. Overhead the Bluejays made a racket, wanting me to go away.
I remember having picnics in the shade of large pine trees when my family traveled through the Black Forest in Germany in 1968. Today the smell of pine trees still takes me back 40+ years and I can close my eyes and I'm a little girl again, exploring the beauty of Europe with my family.
I remember sitting under coconut trees on the beaches of Ivory Coast, watching the gigantic Atlantic waves crash on the sand as the water rushed up toward our toys and towels.
What memories do you have of the trees of your childhood?