"A tree is not a thing, like this dish or the fruit in it. A tree is alive, and thus it is always more than you see. Roots to leaves, yes -- those you can, in part, see. But it is more -- it is the lichens and moss and ferns that grow in its bark, the life too small to see that lives among its roots, a community we know of, but do not think on. It is every fly and bee and beetle that uses it for shelter or food, every bird that nests in its branches. Every one an individual, and yet every one part of the tree, and the tree part of every one. You cannot rightly speak of a tree as an individual, apart from the earth in which it grows, the air it breathes, the sunlight that wakes it to life, the living things that surround it. And yet each tree is also an individual...." (from Oath of Fealty by Elizabeth Moon, p. 122)We can renew our connection to trees by vowing to just notice them. We can grab a friend or loved one and go deeper into reigniting our appreciation for trees by trying activities like Find Your Tree, which challenges us to locate "our" tree using senses other than sight.
We can help our children build a sense of wonder, reverence, and curiosity about trees by reading them stories like these children's picture books honoring trees and engaging them in reverence-building activities.
Whenever I take a walk in the woods, I always take time to stop and appreciate the trees. I'll put my hand on one, feeling the bark, taking a moment to thank the tree for existing and for all the tree provides. Sometimes I'll close my eyes and send positive energy to the tree...and sometimes I feel like the tree sends me some back. Sometimes I imagine I can even feel the tree breathing, if I'm very quiet and listen very closely. My great-nephew came to visit me once when he was about seven, and I taught him about touching trees and listening for their breathing. We did lots of activities the week he was here, but he remembered for a long time about the "breathing trees."
We've heard the maxim that we protect what we love. We can fall in love with trees again (and everything else wild and wonderful), and we can start, just by paying attention.
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