A Girl and Her Tree

 Heather Fox, Education Specialist, 
Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and Nature Explore

I remember it vividly, being in the wooded area near my home as a young child. I would jump just high enough to wrap my arms around a low hanging branch and swing to a perch where I could see everything a bit clearer. My legs would swing in careless abundance. I could sit, stand, recline or even walk along a particularly welcoming branch. The way the bark felt on my bare arms and feet was so familiar and comforting. This was my tree.

My friends at Arbor Day Foundation tell me that most everyone can share a touching story about their favorite tree.  Trees make it easy for us to connect with nature.  They are colorful, strong, diverse and can be found in nearly every neighborhood.  Trees are long lasting.

Just the other night, I found myself exploring this same wooded area with a younger tree enthusiast. We stopped to marvel at a beautiful collection of stacked logs and immediately started counting the rings and wondering about all kinds of things.  I began to describe some of my adventures in this “forest” and turned around to notice that this freshly cut and kindly organized tree was in fact, my tree.  After a sigh and a deep breath. I thought about the ways children see and feel natural beauty.  This feeling is long lasting.

For many of us this is why we do what we do. We know that children have the great capacity to feel and learn with nature.  From the time I was a child to the time I’m writing this blog that one tree, my tree, taught me so much. I’d like to know about your favorite moments in nature. What inspires you?

4 responses on “A Girl and Her Tree”

Angie says:

My “tree” was a circle of lilac bushes in by back yard. I’d crawl into the center of the circle all the time to play, relax and dream. The smell as you can imagine was fabulous, textures too actually, and every time I smell anything lilac I’m brought back to that peaceful place. I was sad when my parents removed them, many years later, to re-landscape the area. I wouldn’t give up those memories for anything! 🙂

Lana says:

Some trees set you free. We had a beautiful tree in our yard that had the best swing on the block hanging from one of it’s outstretched arms. We would take turns pushing each other “to the moon”.

It housed a fort, high up, that everyone enjoyed for years and years. This one, beautiful tree set the stage for so many wonderful events such as performances, imaginary battles, secret neighborhood “kid” meetings, and just a place to hide out and spend some alone time with the wind, sunshine and birds.

It feels like it was yesterday even though our old friend has been gone for quite awhile now.

Teresa says:

My parents built our house on land that a local nursery had grown numerous varieties of pecan trees. One of the trees was my favorite. It had a branch that had split off into four. I would sit up there for hours and dream or read books. Years later, I was married and we lived outside New Orleans and our front corner lot had a huge magnolia tree with a trunk that was more than 3 feet in diameter. I helped all three of our children plus all the neighborhood kids learn to climb that tree It had those beautiful, graceful low branches that just invited you up! Last spring, my husband had a conference in New Orleans so I drove out to see how the neighborhood had fared with Katrina. The tree was gone – I cried. I love trees – just planted a Ginko in my yard even though it is more of an heirloom tree at my age:-)

Heather, You have described the tree memory so well. I have similiar forest memories from my childhood. I also used a great book in elementary education Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel for talking about the loss of a tree friend. It’s a great family story and the illustrations really hold the attention of students.

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