I love Trees. I see their faces. Some have more than one with many eyes watching the world. Have you noticed this too? I love their scars and textured skin, the way some exfoliate across seasons and others whose bark is marked with deep cracks and bulging knots. They wear their age with honor. I love their generosity— their gifts of oxygen and shade, the refuge of their sturdy branches and ability to host lichen, moss and nests.
One of my intentions this year is to learn the names and ways of the trees in my area. The tree in the photo is a favorite along my morning walk. She belongs to the Horsechestnut family. Currently her straggly winter limbs are bare with the beginning of buds at the tips. Come spring she will sprout clusters of fragrant white blossoms that look like miniature orchids and smell like honey. Her limbs will be covered with the shade of giant palmate leaves, each a fan of 5 to 7 variegated green fingers edged with teeth. She will eventually produce hundreds of spiny pods, each containing a single glossy seed that feels like polished wood and provides food for resident squirrels. But what stops me in my path is her owl-like face. She knows things. She hears and sees everything. She is an ancient being, a watchful guardian, a sacred healer, a gentle giant. I call her Freya.
I never thought of myself as a tree hugger but the other day I felt compelled to hug Freya. Standing under her wise face, I wrapped my arms around her rugged trunk, her girth much wider than my reach. Immediately, I felt an immense sense of comfort and stability, much like the way I felt when my Gram hugged me as a child. I experienced a deep sense of grounding with the Earth, a vibration of support that rooted deep and expanded up and out. I embraced Freya for a long while, not wanting to let go.
I get teary now thinking about that embrace. My love of Trees grew exponentially in that moment and I can confidently say that will not be my last tree hug. I have begun reading The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Just a few pages in and I don't need to be convinced that trees feel and communicate. I am excited to discover more about their "secret world" and to grow my relationship with these life-giving and life-sustaining beings. And this name, Arbor— a name that I gave to myself a decade ago, is taking on new layers of meaning as I nurture the tree hugger in me. It feels like the beginning of deep ancestral work, rooted in sacred connections with the trees and natural world.