It started with the documentary Intelligent Trees. I found that compelling enough to watch a second doc – The Secret Life of Trees. Then, as synchronicity often operates (or a google algorithm), a review of the novel The Overstory by Richard Powers popped up on my screen. It seems Powers was so fascinated by the subject of trees that “writing The Overstory quite literally changed my life,” he told The Atlantic in a review of the book that won a Pulitzer in 2019.
I enjoy a well-written fiction that teaches me something just like I enjoy a nonfiction that tells a good story so I added The Overstory to my infinite reading list. Then a few days later The Overstory popped up in the Bookbub newsletter. Synchronicity was hitting me over the head. I’m 3/4 into the book now. I’m not going to review the book here – there are plenty reviews online- but with recommendations by Margaret Atwood and Barbara Kingsolver you can’t go wrong. The writing is beautiful.
Like most of the characters in the book, I’ve always been a tree lover and can make a list of important and memorable trees in my life. I’ll share a few here:
- The large magnolia in the backyard of my childhood home in NC. It was the perfect climbing tree with sturdy limbs that seemed to go up forever. It was my fort, my lookout, my hiding place. Once I climbed so high that I could feel the top of the tree sway in the breeze and I became alarmed enough to call out for help. When my mother saw how high I was, she threatened to call the fire department. “She can get down the same way she got up,” reasoned my father. He was right, but I never went that high again.
2. The Ficus tree in front of the public library in Stuart, FL. It was huge with roots that dripped down from limbs high above. Having newly arrived in Florida, I was amazed by these giant jungle trees. This particular tree was a kid magnet and often served as a babysitter while moms dropped off or picked up library books. My girls loved it. We left Stuart, the library moved, and I can only hope the tree has been preserved.
3. The giant live oak in my neighborhood. When I first saw this tree while house hunting, I knew we were in the right neighborhood. So many of the houses we had seen had no trees at all so when we saw all the old oaks in this older neighborhood, I hardly needed to see inside the house to know it was home. The giant oak down the street hovers over two houses and the road, and is covered with resurrection fern that turns green in the rain. If anything happens to that tree I may just have to move.
Do you have an important tree in you life? If so, give it a hug. Science says tree hugging is actually good for you. Who knows, the tree might like it too.