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How Trees Help Us Connect to Ourselves and Our World

Updated on September 14, 2015
Jason hanging from his special tree.
Jason hanging from his special tree. | Source

Jason's Special Tree

I have a number of trees that have been special to me, and I've also been gathering memories from others and remembering the important trees I've come across in children's literature. I wish I had pictures of all the old trees from my childhood, but back in the 1940s people rarely took pictures of their trees. They were just a part of life, constantly there and in the background, important, but taken for granted, like so many other things we only notice after they are gone.

The tree in this picture is one my son Jason loved. That's Jason, hanging from this tree he loved to climb, regularly pruned with a tree saw when he was older, and under which often met with his friends. It was under this very tree that he told me he'd be moving way from his then foster home next door,not yet knowing that this tree would soon be his. You can read that story here.

Trees play a significant role in our lives and help us make memories and connect us to people and places.

Do you remember a special tree from your childhood or is there a special tree in your life now? Did you used to hide in a tree or climb a tree? Was there a tree where you and your friends used to play or just hang out on your special branches? Was a tree your 'jungle gym"?

Perhaps you have a special tree right now. It might be one you planted and watched grow for years, or maybe generations. Maybe it's a tree you drove through at a national park. Maybe it gives you delicious peaches or apples every year. Or maybe you can see it from your kitchen sink and watch the birds that spend time there. Maybe the only special tree you had in your life was the Christmas tree around which your family gathered during the holiday season.

Christmas Trees are Special

As it turned out, this was Jason's last Christmas. No one could have guessed he would die in an accident the next August.
As it turned out, this was Jason's last Christmas. No one could have guessed he would die in an accident the next August. | Source

A tree can help one connect with friends.

It can support a treehouse, such as the one Jason and his friend are building here.
It can support a treehouse, such as the one Jason and his friend are building here. | Source

More Special Trees

This pepper tree lived in our backyard in Newbury Park, behind the house we lived in before moving here. It became a special place for Jason and Danny because it was a private place they could furnish as they pleased and just hang out together. They did finish it, but I don't have that picture. I do know they hauled an old TV up there, and I have no idea how they planned to get the electricity to it. They hauled various "necessary" objects up there, but I never got up to inspect it.

When I was in my grade school years, I also had a special tree in my back yard to climb. I and my closest neighbor friends each had a special perch in that tree that we claimed. When we just wanted to hang out and talk away from the world, we climbed up to our personal branches and stayed there as long as we wanted. Those were the days when kids still had free and unstructured time to play -- no organized sports for grade school age girls back in the 1940s and 50's.

By the time I reached high school, we had moved to a home without so many trees. The most special tree to me during those years was, believe it or not, in front of the administration building at Bellfower High School. It became a meeting place for me and my friends after school every day. We would gather to talk until the last bus was ready to leave most days, as we waiting for some who were in athletics to finish their extended school day.

Under that tree I first saw a friend actually and literally ROTFL -- only it was the ground -- not the floor. I also saw the one of us who was really interested in biology pit a bumblebee against a black widow spider in a jar while we watched to see which would win. I asked this friend tonight through his Facebook page if he remembered what kind of tree we gathered under. He said he is pretty sure it was a sycamore tree. He probably was the only one of us who might have taken note of such things. To me back then, it was simply OUR tree. Today I can't remember how large it was, only that it's where friends got to be better friends.

I feel sorry for kids who have never had a special tree in their childhood.

My special tree at Lawrence Moore Park in Paso Robles - It appears I'm not the only one who claims this cottonwood tree as special

Source

Lawrence Moore Park has access to the Salinas River Trail in Paso Robles. It's only three blocks from my Paso Robles house. All of us in the neighborhood walk there. My preferred walking time is around dusk. This cottonwood tree lives in the park, and I walk by it several time a month. I observe it over the changing seasons. During the summer I saw these kids in the tree as a walked by. I was happy to see them enjoying it. It would not surprise me if it is a special meeting place for them. They were delighted to have me take their picture and said I could post it on line.

Did you have a tree you loved when you were growing up?

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Trees can help us connect with the food we eat.

This apple tree was my very favorite tree in this house.
This apple tree was my very favorite tree in this house. | Source

This Always Reminds Me of My Apple Tree

I took the photo of my apple blossoms and put it on this hat at Zazzle. Click source code If you'd like one, too.
I took the photo of my apple blossoms and put it on this hat at Zazzle. Click source code If you'd like one, too. | Source

The Apple Tree I Loved

There was as much of it outside the picture as in it. I say it was, because it no longer looks like this. It got too large, and its branches became too heavy when its blossoms became fruit that last year, and its trunk split from the weight of the loaded branches. How I wanted to save this fruit, even though it appeared the tree was doomed. But none of it ripened as we'd been told it might. I will show you ways we tried to save the tree in the photo gallery below. Though we have two other apple trees, one just planted about three years ago, neither has meant to us what the red delicious apple tree has. We mourned the loss of this tree even as we attempted to save it. I am so glad I made a hat from the pictures of its blossoms when it was still in its glory. Now it is a reminder of those years. I told the complete story of this tree in my gardening blog.

This apple tree is the last in a long line of fruit trees that have been special to me. When I was very young, Victory Gardens were all the rage. It was patriotic to have one during WWII, and that is where I first learned the connection between trees and yummy fruit. My favorites were the Babcock peach tree which produced sweet white-flesh peaches, and the Santa Rosa plum tree. As I grew up, I learned exactly when the fruits were just at the correct degree of ripeness to taste the best. I have wonderful memories of walking through my backyard in the summertime and grabbing the best snacks right off the trees.

I never forgot that house or its fruit trees. Once you've tasted fresh fruit at the peak of ripeness right from the tree, you lose your taste for supermarket fruit. As soon as we had our house in Newbury Park where we had room for fruit trees, we planted a Babcock peach, a white flesh nectarine, and a Santa Rosa plum, and we didn't need to buy any fruit when they were bearing. We also had a tasty apricot tree and I learned to make both apricot and plum jam. In the picture below, you can see the apricot tree in it's dormant state when it was fairly young. The orange tree, however, was my husbands favorite tree. It came with the house. I probably only took its picture because of the snow. It doesn't snow more than once every ten years or so in Newbury Park. This was in February, 1988, the only time it snowed while we lived there. It didn't bother the tree.

Hubby still misses that orange tree. Its fragrant blossoms scented the air in winter even as the previous year's blossoms were maturing into large navel oranges that reached their peak of ripeness in late spring and early summer. My husband is determined to grow such a tree here, where the weather is really too cold for it in winter.

We Can Grieve for Trees

Created at Quozio.com
Created at Quozio.com

What happened to my apple tree - Apricot tree becomes more special

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is how the apple tree looked at the beginning of the dormant season. You can see the efforts that had been made to prop the heavy branches up with whatever we could find to support the weight. At this closer look, you can see the tree is coming out of dormancy. Those branch tips are swelling and getting ready to burst into blossom. But the tree needs to save its energy to heal its wounds.This is the ugly result. I am grieving, as my hopes aren't very bright right now.I kept urging the men to try to heal the truck before it was destroyed. I wanted them to seal it somehow. But it still looks like this. The rains are here. It will be a miracle if this poor tree, which I have loved, survives. The bright spot in the orchard this year was the first crop this apricot tree produced. We've had it for at least ten years, but it never gave us apricots, and hardly any blossoms. As you can see, it finally came through for us last year.
This is how the apple tree looked at the beginning of the dormant season. You can see the efforts that had been made to prop the heavy branches up with whatever we could find to support the weight.
This is how the apple tree looked at the beginning of the dormant season. You can see the efforts that had been made to prop the heavy branches up with whatever we could find to support the weight. | Source
At this closer look, you can see the tree is coming out of dormancy. Those branch tips are swelling and getting ready to burst into blossom. But the tree needs to save its energy to heal its wounds.
At this closer look, you can see the tree is coming out of dormancy. Those branch tips are swelling and getting ready to burst into blossom. But the tree needs to save its energy to heal its wounds. | Source
This is the ugly result. I am grieving, as my hopes aren't very bright right now.
This is the ugly result. I am grieving, as my hopes aren't very bright right now. | Source
I kept urging the men to try to heal the truck before it was destroyed. I wanted them to seal it somehow. But it still looks like this. The rains are here. It will be a miracle if this poor tree, which I have loved, survives.
I kept urging the men to try to heal the truck before it was destroyed. I wanted them to seal it somehow. But it still looks like this. The rains are here. It will be a miracle if this poor tree, which I have loved, survives. | Source
The bright spot in the orchard this year was the first crop this apricot tree produced. We've had it for at least ten years, but it never gave us apricots, and hardly any blossoms. As you can see, it finally came through for us last year.
The bright spot in the orchard this year was the first crop this apricot tree produced. We've had it for at least ten years, but it never gave us apricots, and hardly any blossoms. As you can see, it finally came through for us last year. | Source

New Life in My Delicious Apple Tree - It may live after all.

Damaged apple tree still leafing out this year.
Damaged apple tree still leafing out this year. | Source

Will the Tree Make It?

It appeared my favorite apple tree had survived. It did blossom after all, and, as you can see, it produced new leaves again.

Rejoicing Over Little Apples on the Damaged Tree this Year - It appears this tree had a strong will to live and bear more fruit.

New Crop of Apples on Tree that Had Split
New Crop of Apples on Tree that Had Split | Source

Sometimes Our Hopes are Disappointed

I did a happy dance when I saw these healthy little apples start to form. We thinned them so as not to strain the tree too much. But were delighted beyond words to have them there after we thought the tree was doomed.

Unfortunately, after all our efforts and hopes raised by these small apples, they never ripened and the tree died.

Have You Ever Grieved Over a Tree?

Have you ever lost a tree you actually grieved over losing?

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There is a Time for Everything

Source

Trees are my daily companions. These are the ones I live with.

My Grove of Trees
My Grove of Trees | Source

We have a clump of large trees up close to the house and our neighbor's mobile home that have been here long before me. Each day as I go to the warehouse to get a book or to the storage shed to get supplies or stored food, I pass these trees.

One of my favorites is this tree that guards my book warehouse -- that tin shed behind that moving truck. The tin shed is tall enough to have an upper level and so we put an attic in it. Do you see how the tree towers over it. I love that tree. Its branches used to go all the way to the ground, but my husband decided it needed to have the lower branches trimmed away. I think it looks a bit bare now. I hope this stately evergreen will return my love and not ever fall onto the shed behind it. I hope it is rooted more firmly to the earth than some evergreens. This tree gifts us with a supply of pine cones each summer, but the birds and the other critters get them first. We don't mind. It's a tree's nature to give.

The Giving Tree is one of my favorite books.

Why not buy a copy to give to someone you love ?

The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree

If any book captures the spirit of man's relationship with trees, this simple picture book is the one. The tree gives to the boy, and then the man, throughout it's life, and then continues to give when all that remains is the stump.

 

Trees help us connect with ourselves.

Trees encourage us to think deeply about our connection to other living things.

Compared to any tree that's been around as long as I have, I'm a small creature. When I go out to my book shed, the evergreen you saw there makes me feel pretty insignificant in comparison. I often think, as did the Psalmist..."What is man that thou art mindful of him?" I consider who I am in the sight of God and where I fit into the world. I marvel at how God takes care of trees and how determined they are to survive and produce fruit. I marvel at the palette of colors they give us as the seasons change, and even as they wear their various shades of green. Seeing the trees often brings back words of Scriptures that apply to me, since both Jesus and the Psalmists used trees to illustrate their stories and poems. Any person who really looks at a tree and lets himself think cannot help but reflect on its beauty or ruggedness or some other of its attributes and wonder about his own character or personal resourcefulness.

The tree above is on the hill behind my church. Most of the year it sits there by itself invisible unless someone comes to see it. Last December it provided the setting for a wedding. Our sunrise service is usually held near it on the hill. But most of the year only the cattle who graze near it see it. The tree doesn't care. It's not there to call attention to itself, but to glorify God, who made it. It challenges me to do the same.

Trees and Memories

Source

Do You Have a Special Tree?

I'd love to have you share why a tree in your life was or is special. Did you play in it? Eat it's fruit? Or was it a scary tree you had to walk past? Any and all tree memories are welcome, or you can just let me know you were here.

© 2011 Barbara Radisavljevic

Is there special tree in your life?

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    • BarbRad profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 2 years ago from Templeton, CA

      moonlake, I am so sorry. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who loved and grieved the loss of a tree.

    • BarbRad profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 2 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Peg, I hope it thrives and brings you many apples and happy memories.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 2 years ago from America

      I lost an apple tree this year. My husband loved that tree when it would start to lean he would tie it up when branches would break he would cut them off and fuss with that old tree. This year a storm came in and down went the tree. The apples kept growing and turned red, but now it has to be cut up.

      I hate losing or cutting any trees.

      Enjoyed your hub.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Stories about trees are always fascinating to me. Loved the photos of your apple tree. I'm about to plant one in my yard to replace a tree that was hit by lightning.

    • BarbRad profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I love that story. I"m glad you got your tree back.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 3 years ago

      We have a lilac tree in the garden (we have been here over 30 years and it was there when we came). One winter, when the big winds came, the trunk broke and it fell over into the street. The trunk wasn't fully broken and I had to get a saw and break it up to clear the pavement. My husband was up at his mother's house dealing with a problem up there. I thought that was the end of it but it sprouted again and it is now back as big as ever with large lilac inflorescences each spring.

    • BarbRad profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Lionhod, I'm glad she has survived her troubles.

    • BarbRad profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      MJ Martin, I identified a lot with the pioneers crossing the prairies in covered wagons recording in their diaries how much they missed seeing trees. How bare the land is without them.

    • BarbRad profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      ecogranny, I'm very glad God decided to make such a variety of trees so that something looks wonderful through each season.

    • BarbRad profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your favorite tree, Elsie.

    • Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Lovely hub.

      As a kid, I had a close relationship with a pair of ancient apple trees. They were probably close to 200 years old (the age of the house) I'd sit in them and read or write. When I was sad I'd go there to be comforted.

      Right now we have a candleoil tree. She's been through a lot - hurricanes and idiots at our homeowners association trying to trim her to bits. She's managed to survive. We call her our "biker" tree because she's so hearty.

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 3 years ago from Washington State

      I love trees, as you can see, I'm leaning on one! The Giving Tree is a wonderful book. No one special tree, different ones at various times of the year grab my attention. Beautiful photos of trees and love the quotes.

      Great tree memories you shared, I can't remember living anywhere trees weren't close. Nice how we can pin the individual pictures.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Like you, throughout my life I have gravitated toward trees, taken solace in them, dreamed the dreams of adolescence under them. I've even written stories about them. Yes, there are trees in my life that are quite special, though they are many miles away from my home today. I am grateful for every urban planner and home owner who plants a tree on the sidewalks of our city and in our parks.

      Thank for sharing your love of trees and all they mean to you.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Trees are special, I have many trees on our farm. One of my favorite is the Red Maypole trees in my garden. Loved your photos, thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Great photos! Thank you for publishing this lens. Someone told me that they had found many birds in your area. I wonder if that's so, because we could take a trip there. It's about 260 miles. Please post a comment on my bio page if you have any suggestions.

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 6 years ago

      I love trees! I had the Giving Tree book which I noticed on here as a child and I would read it over and over. I still feel a connection with trees and as a child I liked to climb them. Great lens!

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 7 years ago

      I have had many special trees in my life. About five years ago I moved from New England to British Columbia, and besides family, what I miss most are the large deciduous trees. Evergreens are nice, too, but I guess we become attached to what we know.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Trees are a source of inspiration to me, I rejoice in seeing a lot of greenery around and especially the gigantic trees that form a canopy in the forest. They give us so much, yet we keep chopping them for trivial interests.

    • tiff0315 profile image

      tiff0315 7 years ago

      At my grandpa's house we had a whole grove of trees that were big enough to build treehouses in. Between all of my cousins, there was a competition between the girls and boys of who could make the best treehouse.....the boys won. But it was fun!

    • BetsiGoutal1 profile image

      BetsiGoutal1 7 years ago

      It's funny, I hadn't thought about in ages, but I did have a special tree for a while as a child - it was actually not special to me and my sister until a hurricane knocked it down, narrowly missing our swingset. At the time I didn't understand the tree died because of this, all I knew was I had a wonderful natural jungle gym right behind the swings all summer long! :)

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Beautiful lens. We have planted all the trees we have now, so we have no large trees on the property yet. At present, my most special one will have a lovely crop of yummy persimmon very soon :)

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