I moved to California for the ocean, the weather, and medical treatment at Stanford. The trees surprised me.
My affinity for trees began in childhood. Our house had two trees in the front yard and one at the end of the sidewalk that bisected the back yard. I spent hours pressing bits of bark into the tree nearest our street, the one my brothers called a puzzle tree. The young tree behind the house broke my wild rides down the driveway on my bicycle. I clung to its slender trunk with shaking arms as the bike flew forward and crashed on the neighbor’s driveway.
A high school Religion teacher took us to a park and had us crane our necks to look into the wide expanse of the leafy tree tops. He called it “tree therapy”. I needed that. Years later, I walked among the trees that graced the top of a mountain where my husband owned land. We could not see the sun. Cool air stirred the overhead branches. Needles and leaves fluttered to the ground and clung to my curls. My soul danced on the breezes, leaping to heights that I could never attain; bringing the wind back with it to nestle in my troubled heart and soothe my worried mind.
When I bought the house in which I raised my son, I pictured him climbing the tree at the end of the driveway and having picnics under the cedar on the little block of land adjacent to the garage. But before we moved into the place, carpenter ants had claimed one. A few years later, huge cracks developed in the hundred-year-old stone wall. The beautiful cedar had to go. The umbrella maple in the front yard continued to shelter the house, until the ice storm that cracked its trunk and sent half of it crashing onto our porch. The tree still stood, but would forever be scarred. I watched a neighbor’s chain saw render its fallen crown useless for anything but craft projects and winter bonfires.
In my early California days, I roamed the mountains adjacent to the coast, stopping for lunch whenever I could find a sheltered layby. The redwoods rose into a steely winter sky or the shimmering blues of summer and spring. I would lean against a bench or the fender of my car and stare into the sweep of their branches. The stillness caressed me. Sometimes I slept; and the trees stood guard. No harm ever came to me.
Today I leaned against my vehicle here at home, to talk to my sister on the phone. Groceries waited in the back. I lifted my face to the sun. Tension lost its grip on my shoulders as my eyes followed the graceful lines of the trees rising above the houses and trailers in the park where I live. My cares receded. Even when our call had ended, I stood still on that spot of beauty for a long moment. Tree therapy, indeed.
It’s the tenth day of the one-hundred and tenth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
Thank you for reading my blog. If you have not yet purchased my book and wish to do so, February will be a good month as it’s the first month in my new campaign to raise money for worthy causes. A percentage of all sales for the rest of 2023 will be donated to nonprofits, with a different charity chosen each month.
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