The sycamore that grows in my backyard, near the house, has been leaning (away from the house) ever since a major hurricane years ago. I think it was Bertha in 1996. With each hurricane since, I go outside and give the tree a hug before things get dicey. “Hang in there,” I murmur. I think it was during Floyd in ’99 that I watched the roots heave upward a few inches with each powerful gust tugging at the branches. “Hold on,” I whispered from the back door.
The sycamore held on through the storms, through my divorce and through the raising of two teenagers. Now, a smaller trunk grows from the base of mother sycamore, leaning in the opposite direction, providing balance. The mother tree seems to be leaning less, like maybe at a 5 degree angle instead of 20 degrees.
Some people would have cut this tree down as soon as the lean was discovered.
But not this tree hugger.
Each year the leaning tree sheds it’s bark as sycamores are known to do. This past summer, I noticed natural heart shaped holes in bark offerings. Maybe they were there before, and I just didn’t notice. I don’t know. Life is what you make it, and I like to think that maybe my old friend sent me summer valentines.
The wide leaves are just starting to turn brown. Soon they will begin to fall.
Trees give us shade in the summer as their leaves soak up the sun’s energy. If you have as many trees in your yard as I do, you can save a lot of money on air conditioning.
As the weather cools, some trees let go of their leaves, letting the sun shine through to warm us in winter.
Is it a coincidence that trees benefit us this way? Are we just lucky? Or are we blessed?
Then there’s the whole oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange thing. Trees make the stuff we need to breathe in, and we breath out the stuff they need.
Do you ever stop and think about how amazing and wonderful this planet is?
This poem is from Earth Prayers 1991, Edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon:
Few things that grow here poison us.
Most of the animals are small.
Those big enough to kill, do it in a way
Easy to understand, easy to defend against.
The air here is just what the blood needs.
We don’t use helmets or special suits.
The star here doesn’t burn you if you
Stay outside as much as you should.
The worst of our winters is bearable.
Water, both salt and sweet, is everywhere.
The things that live in it are easily gathered.
Mostly, you can eat them raw with safety and pleasure.
Yesterday, my wife and I brought back
Shells, driftwood, stones and other curiosities
Found on the beach of the immense
Fresh-water Sea we live by.
She was all excited by a slender white stone which
“Exactly fits the hand.”
I couldn’t share her wonder.
Here, almost everything does.
Whether it’s luck, or the grand design of a generous Creator, we need to be more thankful for our planet, and particularly thankful for trees. If a tree’s growing in an inconvenient place, try to move it while it’s still small. Put small seedlings in pots and give them away. Give them a chance.
What have you learned from trees or from nature?