Have you ever hugged a tree?
A question I like to ask people and the answer is often, "No", followed up with a look of disbelief or an accusation of being mad or a hippy or weird.
Trees are a life force. When hugging a tree, you can feel their energy.
Watch a tree being battered in a storm and appreciate their strength and resilience to the elements. Think of the life supported by trees - mosses, lichens and ferns growing on them, insects attracted to fresh delicious new leaves, birds attracted to the insects, the tree's nooks and crannies making perfect nesting spots, the large branch that sticks out and provides the ideal perch for a bird of prey to survey the land before swooping down on unsuspecting prey.
Roots take up vast quantities of water every day, helping to stabilise land and reduce flooding. Leaves contain the chlorophyll allowing the photosynthesis required to harness the suns energy so the tree can grow and thrive. Trees take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and give out oxygen. We could have the perfect relationship with these living wonders if we respected them.
Look up at the canopy of a woodland and notice that the trees don't tend to overlap, they allow each tree its own space, somehow respecting one another.
Spring brings bud-burst, flowering blossoms, fresh green leaves and we see a change of shades of green as we enter summer. We see different trees flowering at different times, and the formation of beautiful berries, nuts and seeds. For those who choose to enter the world of festivals in the summer time, we see the natural beauty of trees altered with uplighting, glitter balls hung from them as we dance outside with the joys of midsummer.
Autumn leaves of an array of colours delight us for a few weeks a year. When the days get shorter, the chlorophyll making the leaves look green disappears and we get treated to the display of oranges, yellows and reds of the pigment left in the leaves. A true treat for our eyes before the leaves fall in order to help the tree conserve it's resources over the winter... giving us the pleasure of piles of leaves to play in and individual crunchy leaves scattered on paths for us to satisfyingly step on.
Winter... we see trees naked, skeleton-like. Incredible branched silhouettes not dissimilar to the veins of our bodies.
If you have never hugged a tree, try it. Many people, young and not so young, who I have taken out for walks in nature have never done so.
It doesn't take much encouragement. I see some people immediately respond to the idea and it's like flood gates opening - they want to hug all the trees. Others are more tentative, taking their time to consider their options. Placing a hand on a tree to find an initial connection before walking on and contemplating for a while until eventually, the find the one and work up the courage to embrace it. I see the calming influence it has on them, grounding, nurturing, at peace.
Hug trees, plant trees, respect trees, pass on the knowledge and joy that they bring.
If you are interested in developing your knowledge, interest and understanding of trees and our relationship with them, I urge you to read Wildwood by Roger Deakin, one of my favourite books.
Get in touch if you are interested in booking a Nature Keen tree-focused walk or talk.
Take care, enjoy the trees