Gazing Up Under Trees
“the branches crossed above us
— a stained-glass sky of light and laughter” - NK
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a love-affair with trees…
This kinship feels DEEEEP - a blood and bones level connection.
Since childhood, my favourite pastime has been to lie under the canopy of a large tree, gazing up as the light filters through the layers of leaves --- made all the more breathtaking when the wind and sun engage and leaves rustle and shimmer, catching the light in endlessly mesmerising ways.
Trees, like all plants, ‘grow towards the light’ - that ever apt metaphor for holding onto hope. (Something we can all readily turn to in these increasingly insane times).
Exemplifying what it means to be grounded, wise and resilient, trees with their deep roots, sturdy trunks and scarred bark, are built to weather the storms and winds of life.
I suppose I came by this tree obsession honestly, having grown up with a mother who would mourn the cutting down of favourites in our yard like the loss of a dear friend.
Surprisingly over the years, this awe has not diminished in the slightest (as it often does when one grows from childhood magic-seeker into realistic ‘adult’)- in fact it has only grown. It is a reminder that the world, although often filled with cynicism, can still be soft and wondrous.
Sometimes, if I quiet the noise in my brain & body and get really still, I even imagine both “breathing in” and “being breathed by” the tree - as though we’re engaging together in a symbiotic cycle of breath. My outbreath of carbon dioxide being breathed in by the tree and then reciprocated by its outbreath of oxygen entering my lungs and so on.
Like my mother, I now also mourn the loss of any big beautiful tree. The toppling of so many wise old trees during the last few Toronto ice storms, quite literally broke my heart.
— A few years ago, my daughters and I started naming our favourite trees in the neighbourhood - “Delilah Rose”, our most beloved is named after a little stroller-bound tree-gazer we met on the way to park one day.
To date we have had many impromptu after-school picnics at her base.
(I may or may not have an “emergency picnic kit” (ie. blanket and frisbee) in the trunk for such spontaneous opportunities.
They already feel their own powerful communion with trees -- I suppose given my history, they didn’t stand a chance. ;-)
In ‘growing up’, what threads of ‘awe’ have you dropped along the way?
Is there one you could pick up again?
Grab a blanket —> Find a big old tree —> Lie down—> Look up as though you’ve never seen this before —> Breathe —> Enjoy —-> Go about your day —-> Repeat
Till next time,