People and Trees

Last night I attended the Loreena McKennitt concert. Not only was it an experience of her phenomenal music, but she told wonderful stories as well. In one of them, she said it always fascinated her how it is a very human experience to develop an affinity to trees.

This one sentence jumped out at me. It is certainly true for me. At the end of this post, you can share whether it is true to you.

Every weekend, and all summer long, my playground was a forest. In the late 1940s, my grandfather bought fifty acres of over farmed land. Over the years, he reforested it, such that by the time I came along the trees were quite mature. This forest truly was my playground. I knew it intimately, and felt completely safe and content in it.

In terms of the type of tree I was drawn to, it was the birch. We had a lot of birch in my playground. It is the peeling bark that intrigues me. Like a snake the birch tree constantly outgrows itself and sheds its skin, evolving into something new. Being a child who never really quite fit in, I guess I related to the continuous search to be comfortable in one’s own skin.

Loreena also commented that people can have a special place in their heart for a particular tree. Mine is a beech tree. My paternal grandparents lived within walking distance of my forest. They had their own forest, although it was more poplar trees than pine and birch.

Off in the far corner of the property, on top of a hill, stood a massive beech tree. It was so unexpected among the skinny straight poplars, and it always delighted me when I approached it.

Unlike its forest companions, it was fat and broad, with sturdy branches that started a couple of feet off the ground. Its bark was silky smooth and the colour of molten lead. My birch tree friends called for passive contemplation; whereas the beech wanted to play. “Come climb me,” it begged. “Come stroke my smooth bark,” it said.

Having written this post up to this point, I decided to look up the symbolic meanings of my trees.

Birch – new beginnings and cleansing of the past
Beech – tolerance, softening criticism

Well! Based on my childhood struggles to fit into societal norms, it is certainly no surprise that these two trees were near and dear to my heart. Fascinating!

Might as well take this a bit further and look at which type of tree I am drawn to now. The birch tree still applies, but I would add in palm tree.

Palm – peace and opportunity.

Yep! Exactly where I am at right now.

Thank you, Loreena, not just for your gift of music, but for sparking this personal exploration.

Let’s Talk

What tree or trees are you drawn to?
Look up the symbolic meaning(s). Do they resonate with you?

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