“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.”(Martin Luther King Jr.
I guess you could say I’ve been obsessed by trees my entire life. As a child in Northeast Ohio, I recall my love of free spirited play amid dense woodlands of the Cuyahoga River Valley near my Akron home. For I loved to play “Hide and Seek” behind trees, pick crab apples from tall branches and add fallen acorns into a strange concoction I called “Stone Soup” at the time. When first moving to South Florida as a teenager, I continued to feed my woodland passions by daring to climb tall trees in this more tropically challenging climate. Unfortunately such bold behavior came to a sudden halt when I severely fractured my right wrist falling off a brittle branch from the top of my neighbor’s tree. Meanwhile, I experienced considerably more emotional grief when Hurricanes Cleo and Betsy toppled many beautiful trees throughout our town.
Entering my young adult years in Florida, my attentiveness to trees would logically evolve into a more serious affair. For in envisioning myself as a “pro-environmentalist” advocate, I immersed my mind in Botany, Geography, and Biology classes during my undergraduate college years. Thereafter completing my Masters Degree in Urban Studies Education, I obtained a professional opportunity to promote tree planting beautification and open space preservation as a full time City Planner in the Daytona Beach area. Know as well that my knowledge about the readings of environmentalists John Muir, Marjorie Stoneman Douglass, and Rachel Carson seemed to further inspire my “green” activist efforts during this time.
Moving back to South Florida two years later as an urban, middle school teacher, I discovered new opportunities to spread my love of trees. For during each school year, I scheduled field trip outings to the Everglades and various other local parks to arouse my student interest in learning about their surrounding natural environment. In retrospect, I now realize how important the abrupt snap of a tree branch, light patter of falling rain, or gentle rustle of leaves seemed to be for the self growth of so many of my inner city pupils. For such sounds of wild forest nature had taught them an important lesson about taking time to listen in silence..
Now in my wanderlust years of retirement, tree environs remain for me a most powerful “draw” during our world and road trip travels. For no hike in the wilds or stroll around a city center would be complete without the comforting inner peace provided by the surrounding trees in mind. Occasionally during these outings, I might even satisfy a spontaneous urge to hug a tree. Perhaps you will see what I mean in the following photographic display.