History Of A Tree-Hugger

28 Jan

I am a tree-hugger, but not necessarily in the way most people define it. Sure, I am beginning to be more concerned with environmental issues, and I am definitely the product of the hippy era, but I wouldn’t define myself completely by that stereotype. I just love trees. Most of the memories of my childhood are playing in the woods of New Hampshire. The woods were thick and full of life, playground for my imagination. A fallen log became a spaceship that took me on a tour of the milky way. An abandoned logging clearing filled with piles of wood chips and stacked logs became my own Atlantis, a hidden city were anything was possible.

Then there was The Tree. The Tree was a matronly pine, standing friendly and fat, arms wide open just waiting to be climbed all over and tickle me with her needles. Sap stuck to my fingers together like superglue, but I stayed hidden and content on her shoulders. I could see my whole kingdom from that vantage point. The Tree became a place I would return to year after year even as growing up brought new troubles to my mind. Up in The Tree I felt a world away from fear or worry.

When we moved when I was 13, I said goodbye the only universe I had ever known. Memories surfaced on every step of property surrounding our mobile home , and I went to the The Tree one last time. I thought of the times I had cried and dreamed there. I remembered the drama ensued over The Tree’s rightful family, when the neighbors who hated us claimed the property line was botched. I thought of the year we had butchered chickens under her shade and I laughed sadistically as some ran around headless. I watched the old tire swing in the breeze and knew nothing would ever be the same.

Life on a dead end dirt road unfinished house proved trying to my antsy adolescence. I quickly scoured our new property for a tree to befriend. I encountered a skinny Birch tree that loomed over a stone wall.  The wall provided a sense of risk and adventure- one slip of the foot and I could crack my head open. But I knew I had never fallen, and I never would. The woods at the new house was younger and more wild, becoming a nearly impassible jungle come spring. It was a different feel to sit there, staring at the jagged rocks below me, around me nothing but the thick stillness of country.

The Birch became my place to come as my teenage angst worsened. First time going to school. (I was home schooled) First boyfriend. Heart break. Peer pressure. Questioning my faith and throwing away my innocence. The Birch was abandoned for months at a time, but when I needed a break from reality, I knew it was waiting for me to return. The Birch became my church- I could actually have a conversation with God and be honest about what I was telling Him. I could let the tears come, and know that my questions may not be answered. Up above things in the shelter of the woods, I was ok with life not always resolving. After I left home, whenever I return to New Hampshire I made sure to spend time in The Birch.

Now that I live in Texas, I am still surrounded by woods- only a slightly different kind. The woods here are less linear and more brambly and fractal. Today, I saw a tree wrapped around another thicker trunk, bent and curved going upward like a spiral staircase for pixies. I walked up it, wishing it went higher then it did, hoping to find some hidden abode, some other world like in Avatar.  There is no rhyme of reason to the woods in Texas. They are a form of beautiful chaos, and I love it.

I am thankful for trees and what they have meant to me.  My dream is to live in a tree house someday, and my hope is that I am never too old to climb a tree.

A picture of my future home (drawn for me by my wonderful boyfriend, Jean-Thomas Louvier)

A picture of my treehouse (drawn for me by my wonderful boyfriend, Jean-Thomas Louvier)

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One Response to “History Of A Tree-Hugger”

  1. texbella13 April 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

    An absolutely beautiful tree-house. Love the way you spoke/wrote about trees and the woods. I have lived in Houston all of my life and can relate. I also lived in MA (not to fond of it) and traveled to New Hampshire often. Love the way you intertwined the two parts of the country and the woods and trees. Keep on loving, “tree-hugger”, ha,ha. Makes me want to go take a walk, but it’s dark!! Ok, tomorrow.

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