Tree Lace

Tank Green/ February 10, 2024/ Writing Walking

Photo of some dying lichen on a small tree branch. There is a blurry wintery woodland scene in the background (i.e. trees and dead leaves).

Photo of some dying lichen on a small tree branch. There is a blurry wintery woodland scene in the background (i.e. trees and dead leaves).

The lace on this tree is dying because you don’t love it enough. Seriously, when was the last time you went into Alice Holt Forest to tell this tree how beautiful it is? Don’t lie, I know it’s been a long, long time.

People say you shouldn’t anthropomorphise, but they’re wrong. Trees, like humans, need to be loved. They need to know they are wanted, valued, and adored; they already know they are needed, even if most humans seem to have forgotten that. 

It’s not just trees which need to be loved, it’s a feature of all matter; a simple fact of the universe. It’s just more apparent in certain types of species. We recognise it in humans because we recognise it in ourselves. In turn, it’s easier to see in our furry friends because of proximity and what we read in their eyes. Likewise, we know our pot plants need our love and attention as without it they die. But did you know that even rocks need to be loved? They need to have your hand touch them gently, for you to blow in their cracks, to stick your eyeballs up close and observe the way their ancient ripples have been frozen in time.

Is it really so hard to believe that a tree needs to be loved? That a tree needs to be told of its beauty? In times past, we sung songs to, and for, the trees. We sat in groves and listened to the way the wind played in the canopy above us, and then we took out our instruments and our voices and we sang. In times past, we would rest our back against trees in gratitude for their shade. In those days, we would use trees for way marking, and our eyes would constantly fall upon them in a grateful reassurance.

When a tree is loved, noticed, and remembered, its roots grow at least another seven inches and in the following spring, there will be more buds, followed by more leaves and flowers, and finally more fruit. When a tree is told it is beautiful, its lace glows plump and spritely like a freshly picked corsage. When a tree feels our affections making space for it in our lives, well then, it sings its own songs to heaven. Behold!

There’s lots of things we can’t do much about in the world today, but here is one thing you absolutely can do: you can go out and find a tree and tell it that it’s beautiful. Show it that it’s loved by kissing its bark. Breathe your thank yous into it as you hug its trunk. If you like, you can lay the tips of its branches on the palm of your hand and gently stroke them until you both rest into a smile.

So hurry, go now, into a forest or into a park, and find a tree which speaks to you. Listen to its story. Tell it one of your own. But most importantly, tell that tree how beautiful it is, speak to it in gratitude, and then maybe, maybe by spring, its lace and its leaves will carry the glitter of your affection and show it to the stars. Then maybe, just maybe, one more human will notice that most marvellous of trees. In turn, perhaps, they will speak of it to their lover who will speak of it to their friend who will speak of it to their brother. In this way, perhaps we can fortify the trees with our love and affection, and stop cutting them down.

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