I live in a 100-year old house. That means my yard has 100-year old trees.


We had to cut down a tree today. It was old, and parts of it were already falling onto the roof when you least expected it, and the tree doctor said it was rotting from the inside. Still, you hate to lose a tree.

This was the tree whose leaves were the first to drop, the one I used as my Real Sign of Fall. By the way, that came on Sept. 29 this year.

I collected some leaves from the ground (above) — I’ve painted so many of these leaves in past years.

leaf 001

My Travel Tip for Staying Put No. 4 is:  “Go Hug a Tree.”  Now, I never hugged this particular tree, but I have hugged plenty of trees, and if you want to be a close-to-home traveler, if you want to discover a wonder of the world right next door (OK, that might be overselling it) you need to know which trees in your neighborhood are huggable.

I will explain this more tomorrow, but for now I’ll leave you with this thought from Blaise Pascal:

“You find yourself in the world only through an infinity of accidents.”

The older I get, the more I understand how accidental all of life is, how slight were the chances that any of this — you, me, us, tigers, pain-in-the-ass sales clerks at Anthropologie, etc. — came to pass. I often start to feel weightless, nothing more than an atom in the mind of the universe.  I need to feel gravity, my feet firmly on this Earth, attached, rooted.  So I hug a tree, and connect with the center of this planet. Trees:  I think of them as extended family.

6 Comments, RSS

  1. admin

    I live in Santa Fe, where huggable trees are usually Aspens. All the others are pines of one kind or another (mostly Juniper) – a prickly hug indeed.

    You wouldn’t be trying to wrap your arms around a Juniper for several reasons. The vision of being stuck in a perpetual hug by sap and sneezing your head off from Juniper pollen constitutes a special hell.

    We have limited colored leaf art – only the golden Aspen and the struggling Maples we have convinced to live here – so appreciating them is high on my list of Autumn things to do. In fact, check the Garden Grace blog for a good idea for keeping that beauty around awhile.


  2. Nelly

    I live in New England. I have a variety of trees to hug. hehe I feel grounded walking through the woods. The quietness… the birds and little critters… that feeling of peace… all come together to free me, at least for a time.

  3. Paula

    I live in the Pacific NW and we have so many types of trees it is hard to count how many. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that hugs trees (sshh- I also talk to them!) But I grew up in the Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains near the Montery Bay and those trees are 2000 years old and about 15 feet in diameter! I have long arms but not THAT long! I loved living with them and always felt so grounded when I was walking in the woods and talking to the trees. Thanks for the memories.

  4. I live in Arizona in the desert. We have some low-growing mesquites that are viciously loaded with thorns. No huggers there but I’ve planted a lot of trees and am waiting for them to grow. Sorry you had to lose one of your old trees.

  5. Louise W

    I sympathize with you on the loss of your tree. I have a 60+ year old flowering crab apple tree in my back yard that has a blight that can’t be saved. It has always bloomed for Mothers Day weekend with the most gorgeous display of red and was a bit of brightness out my back window. Each year I have to have another portion lopped off. Another year and I think it will have to be taken down completely – something I’m dreading.

    I do like your idea of hugging a tree to feel grounded. I’m going out to hug that poor, sick tree. Maybe a little personal love can revive it!?

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