As a child I remember loving trees. Especially the kind with a short or funky sideways trunk where I could get up into it and climb around.
I loved the bark, I loved the branches, I loved the leaves changing various colors that brightened up our older, tree-lined neighborhood. I especially loved raking up the leaves and playing in them. I use to rake them all into a pile, only to toss the rake off to the side carelessly and jump in, sending my collection scattering and loving every minute of it. They smelled good; clean and crisp and they sounded good; they were crunchy and “crunkley” and I could hide in them. My dad even had one of those leaf collectors and I remember standing beside him helping him push it along and watching so happily as the leaves were propelled backward toward me into the collection bin. All the more to add to our pile of leaves!
It was THE coolest tool, the leaf collector. It was like a leaf “vacuum” – no power of course but a big long brush in the front swept all the leaves into the collection bag attached. Then dad would let us dump them all into a huge pile. At night the neighbor kids would come over and we would play “Ghost in the Graveyard” in that massive pile of leaves.
I have always had a great love of trees. During the day, they were bright, colorful, alive, and welcoming. I could hear the cicadas buzzing loudly from high up in the trees but would never see a single one of them (thank goodness). At night, I can recall walking home from a friend’s house under the moonlight and being terrified of the trees. Feeling small underneath their long leafy dark limbs. Feeling like someone was peering down at me from high above. That fear probably came from watching the Wizard of Oz, which is one of my all time favorite movies but the scene where the tree’s start talking and throwing apples is unnerving to a kid. Although, at nighttime, once safely tucked in my bed I use to watch out the opened window before falling asleep and trying to make shapes out of the tree’s swaying back and forth. It was as hypnotizing as watching clouds during the day.
Even to this day, I ADMIRE trees – I love them. Not your everyday, nonchalant love “meh. trees.” kind of love- mind you, but the kind where I am driving down the road and I think, “Oh look! That tree – is so beautiful, would it be weird for me to pull over and hug it?” that kind of love, LOL.
When visiting down south I noticed they have a kind of tree with no bark. I had never seen that before so you can imagine that I just couldn’t get over it. Just smooth wood? Bizarre. It was a small flowering tree. On the Air Force Base, where my son, his wife, and daughter live are the most amazing trees I have ever seen. I will start off by saying that they are enormous, the trunks so wide with big root systems out on the grass which look like the arms of a ginormous octopus, so big you’d trip on them if you weren’t careful. Big winding, knotted roots and they literally line the oldest neighborhood on the base. Stemming from that mass is the tallest trunk and the canopy is so green and wide that it meets above the center of road. To take a walk down the side-walk is magnificent, well, to me at least.
As I was talking to my beautiful daughter-in-law the other day we started to talk about children’s books. Having my first grandchild has me getting ready to start a book collection for her. Here is our little sweetie wearing her owl hat.
I began to talk about my favorite children’s book, “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. It’s a story about a friendship between a boy and a tree. My daughter-in-law hadn’t read that particular Shel Silverstein book. Shocked by this revelation, I explained to her that the tree gave everything of herself for a boy’s happiness. When I was younger, I remember reading it and feeling so happy at the beginning of the book, especially with the illustrations because they are simply joyful. As the book goes on, it made me sad because it seemed as if the boy became greedy and took advantage of The Giving Tree, and never gave back to her. It occurred to me while discussing this book ~ that the tree in that book represented my mother or the love of a mother. It represented motherhood and Mother Nature too. THIS MUST BE WHERE MY LOVE FOR TREES ORIGINATED FROM. If not, it sure put me on the “tree-love” fast track.
To me, The Giving Tree was my sweet mother; always happy to see me, always hugging me, always loving me, always giving to me whatever I needed or all that she could for my happiness. MY mother, who sacrificed so much to raise 12 kids, and did it happily. Just as long as her kids were happy, healthy, and well cared for. She always put us first. Here she is:
Perhaps that is why I see more than just an ordinary tree when I look at them. I see a living, breathing, giver. They are so beautiful. They are older, wise, have stood the test of time, fought to keep their place, they never take from us, they protect us from the elements, give us shade, oxygen, breeze, give homes to birds and other small animals, they give food, foundation, and moisture. Trees provide beauty in landscape, shady groves, home for wildlife, they absorb harmful chemicals, they filter and trap pollutants, allow our minds to wander and inspiration for our senses! So, for the love of trees ~ I think I have finally figured out why I love trees so much and it is all stems from a much-loved children’s book written by Shel Silverstein called “THE GIVING TREE”. God rest his beautiful soul. If you have not yet read this book, here is an actual video I found on-line and it’s narrated by Shel himself:
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
I have never seen this video before today. I believe things happen for a reason, there is a reason why this book struck me with such awe and wonderment as a child and throughout my life – the message from this book was imprinted on my soul. This book is the reason I look to trees with such love and adoration. Thank you Mr. Shel Silverstein. Thank you Jesus in Heaven for my beautiful mother and thank you to Mr. Silverstein – I am eternally grateful to see the beauty of motherly trees.