Trees for the Soul

FRIDAY FRIDAY FRIDAY. I cannot wait until the age of retirement when Friday becomes just another day; a world where Mondays and Saturdays are once again created equal. My father, who remains ageless, is thinner and creatively healthier than he’s been in a long time. I think everyone needs to retire every 2-5 years, just to re-align physical and mental health. 

But I’m still in a world of the five day work week, meaning the precious hours of weekend time must be packed with fun, friends, productivity and relaxation all at once. This weekend for instance, I’m traveling up to Connecticut for a hiking and camping getaway,  waving goodbye to the concrete monoliths in exchange for sweet country air.

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America


I stumbled across this quote while reading Travels with Charley on the morning commute. Steinback takes the reader into his world as Rocinante (his trusty automobile) nears the Pacific shore. Here in the forest of the redwoods, moss and densely packed pine needles muffle footsteps and bird calls. Sunlight filters through the canopy far overhead, branches scarping at the clouds. I remember this world of greenery and ancient growth from a long ago family vacation as a child. The trees cultivate a instant sense awe and wonderment; reverence for a cathedral build by bark and leaves. 

Are humans born with an innate connection to trees, to rivers and beaches and mountain ranges in the distance? I can’t say. Perhaps it’s where a person grows up that determines where he or she feels most familiar and at home. Some may fit best in a city or surrounded by human activity.But given enough time, enough quiet and reflection, I believe each of us would find a kinship to the redwoods and any trees (albeit smaller) growing with dignity and vitality. 

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of camping (the rain, the tent, the sleeping on the ground). But when my little group of friends picks our spot in the woods on Saturday evening, I will silently thank the pines and the oaks who act as watchful protectors for the sleeping couples under the stars.

Redwood Forest, Circa 2006
Redwood Forest, Circa 2006