After having some intense dental work one recent morning when it was 21 below zero, I took a walk down the block. The snowy path went through an opening in a tall fence. There it was. One of the biggest trees I have ever seen in Vermont.
It looked like it was part banyan tree and part redwood. Four people could not put their arms around it. Yet it looked like it was holding its arms out to me. I entered its spreading always-green branches and stood by its massive trunk. Reaching up to the sky, whole worlds were leading up, up and up into the morning winter sun.
When someone talks about the old days in kingdoms with kings and queens, it is hard for me to picture. People lining the roads to get a glimpse of the royal carriage going by. Not for me. When I come across an old tall tree is when I feel the majesty of all creation. If only trees were able to rule the kingdom. Silly humans would be relieved of our “control” over nature. We would be guided by the ancient wisdom of the trees.
I will note ten things that we can learn from trees.
- Stand tall and don’t be afraid to be yourself.
- Be as useful as possible.
- Don’t give up, spring will come.
- When your time comes, go back gently into the earth from where you came.
- Learn to sway in the breeze and don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Share sunlight, shelter, water and nutrients with others.
- Know your limits. Don’t get so tall or full of yourself that you fall over.
- Put your best stuff into the next generation.
- If you don’t make so many fruits or nuts or cones this year, there is always next year.
- Remember, we are all a little different from each other, and this is what makes a beautiful forest.
My friend Ron Koss just wrote a book called Parallel in which he talks about a vision for reversing climate change. We all work together to create a parallel way of thinking and a parallel economy where our purchases and our life is centered on things that are good for the earth. Since companies and countries and famous people aren’t making this happen yet, he says that “we earthlings” can become a united front that can be strong and wise enough for the breakthroughs needed to happen.
I invite the trees to join us. If we listen on a windy day to what they are whispering to us, we will know that they will. In fact, they are reminding us to act now to protect them and all that is dear to them and to us.
David Fried lives among trees and talks to them and hugs them sometimes. He is a tree whisperer. He also grows and cares for trees at Elmore Roots Nursery and fruit groves.