I’m all about the trees. Monday I joined a 3-week online program with a group of wonderful women led by Keren Brown, committed to doing some internal work to reset our energies by “dipping our toes into the wellspring of the joy of living.” We began our journey together with a tree meditation, and that’s all it took to fixate me on tree love and appreciation all week.
And as is the way with this beautiful universe that constantly aspires to delight and support by way of offering synchronicities and treasures, so much magic has shown up. I feel like the roots of all the trees in my neighborhood have been reaching out to me, tickling me and saying look at this, look at this, think about that, see what fun this might be.
So today I have a forest-full of lovely tree-y things to share with you. The Japanese have a beautiful term “forest bathing” which means to literally bathe the mind and body in greenspace and then garner endless benefits from such practice. Let’s do some virtual forest bathing; although if you’re lucky enough and feel like it, you can take this blog post outside and do some actual forest bathing. Yay for that!
I am over-the-treetops in love with Tara Books, a commune of artists, writers and designers who produce handmade books in India. The very first book I purchased from them years ago was The Night Life of Trees and I still swoon over it. The art, done by members of Gond Tribe, is silk screened onto black handmade paper, and each tree is accompanied by a short folk tale. A book with so many things I love – folk tales, trees, gorgeous art, and handmade paper! They also sell sets of cards made from a number of the drawings of the trees in the book and I’ve taken a shot of four of them. Aren’t they wonderful?
This week I read another one of their publications, this time a children’s book aimed at 8+ year-old audiences – Leaf Life by Sirish Rao. It invites, through all sorts of practices, development of observation skills, and interspersed are charming little bits that offer delightful reminders that not all trees live in urban neighborhoods like mine. For example, consider this: “Other (leaves) just defend themselves by making themselves too bitter to eat. When a monkey begins to eat the leaves of some forest trees, they produce tannin, a bitter substance. Other trees downwind pick up traces of tannin from the breeze. This is a message to them that the monkey is in the neigbourhood. They begin to produce tannin themselves in advance. Finding the forest downwind of him is too bitter for his taste, the monkey moves upwind to trees that haven’t received the warning.” Don’t you love thinking of all the ways trees communicate that never occurred to you before?
Of course another way trees can communicate is through oracle cards. I love this deck by Lisa McLoughlin – Tree Wisdom Cards.
Then there is this fabulous imagining by Brian Andreas:
“When I die, she said, I’m coming back as a tree with deep roots and I’ll wave my leaves at the children every morning on their way to school and whisper tree songs at night in their dreams. Trees with deep roots know about the things that children need.”
Just as trees know what children need, perhaps adults know what they need from trees as well. Consider this line from the song The Goat’s Earth, by Jami Sieber.
“When I die, don’t bury me under forest trees, I fear their thorns. Don’t bury me under the forest trees, I fear their dripping water. Bury me under the great shade trees of the market. I want to hear the beating drums. I want to feel the dancers’ feet.”
You can listen to the lovely song in its entirety here.
Of course maybe you don’t want to be buried under a tree. Perhaps you’d just like to hide behind one. I can’t tell you how delightful I find this animated video Amanda Palmer did of a conversation she had with her partner Neil Gaiman while he was sleeping. Behind the Trees.
Here’s an uplifting story about the role trees have in a small village in India – helping celebrate the birth of every female child and promoting gender equality.
Curious about strange and wonderful trees? Check out this map infographic of some of the world’s most superlative trees, and then do some of your own research.
Trees of course have a close relationship with birds. I always imagine that perhaps birds pay rent for their prime nesting spots by singing lovely songs to the trees. But trees can also be storage facilities as well. You know how I love little cubbie holes and drawers and secret little treasures hidden places – and so do certain woodpeckers. Check out this acorn tree. I wonder what the neighborhood squirrels think about it.
I know what I think. I think I love and totally agree with this beautiful expression from Rabindranath Tagore:
’Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”
What about you – what magic are trees sharing with you? Do you ever feel the trees tickling your feet with their roots? So you like to listen to the leaves whispering to each other? Tell me a tree story. You know I love to hear.