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Meetings with Trees

This is a time of bareness and bleakness in Ireland. The trees have shed their leaves and they stand naked before us. The weak summer light can reach us more easily as a result. We can also see how differently each type of tree arranges it’s trunk, branches and twigs. Winter gives us an x-ray vision of these summertime-beautiful-green beings. There is a smell associated with the damp rotting leaves or the texture of the dried out leaves beneath your feet. And the sounds of life and the wind moving through branches are different when there are no soft leaves to absorb them.

If you look at a tree carefully you must look at the earth and the sky, you must see close up the pattern of the bark and from far away the shape of its bareness against the background of city or sky, building or bog.

I remember my delight when I realised that many of the trees on the streets on Lisbon were old friends from India. The familiar leaves and blossoms, barks and branch patterns made me feel I was meeting long lost family and could trace the familiar in the new and somehow feel at home in a strange place. Everywhere trees are loved and respected by many people. There are names, stories, uses associated with them.

This prompt is to urge you to adopt a tree. Get to know your tree. How did it come to be here? Is it a native species and self propagated? Was it planted? How old is it? What is called? In local languages? In Latin? Why? Are they myths associated with this tree itself or with this type of tree? Are there any medicinal uses? How does the wood look and has that any special properties?

Yes, this Valentines, I encourage you to make a date with a tree. Get to know your tree. Spend time together. Listen to each other. And maybe, if you feel the urge, write your tree a love letter.

Some tree poems online:

Czeslaw Miloscz : 'Longing' Not that I want to be a god or a hero./Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone.


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