Diary of a Tree Hugger
I was delighted to talk recently with my friend Tanya about her kinship with trees……
Tanya, I was so excited when you told me that you love to talk to your garden and you’re also prone to hugging trees when you feel the urge! Can you tell us how your relationship with trees and plants adds something special to your life?
Some years ago I read a news feature about an Australian indigenous elder and artist who visited Europe on a cultural exchange tour. He was straight out of his country; he hadn’t flown before and English was his second language. In a park in Paris when he spotted a lone gum he walked straight up to it, hugged it and said, ‘My cousin, you are a long way from home.’
I had heard hippy types and healers promoted the idea of hugging trees to earth you and lift your energy but the concept of trees as our cousins hit home. They are. We can’t live without them so now I hug them to show my love, appreciation and respect.
Do you get strange looks?
(Laughs) It’s not something I do with an audience. For me it’s a sacred, private thing, like meditating. But if I was busted hugging a tree I’d be happy to explain why. I think for the planet to survive we need to develop a deep respect for all trees.
What’s your thinking there?
Well, it’s more than worrying about the devastation of the rainforests. I don’t understand why lots of lovely people who care about the felling of forest trees and routinely recycle their papers and cardboard buy blocks of land or houses and units and then cut down big and small trees because they don’t like leaves dropping onto their deck, into their pools or blocking their views. Would you treat your cousins as arrogantly?
That’s an unusual view?
Yes and even a tad bizarre but on a lighter note I adore the beauty of my tree cousins. Outside my fence line is a magnificent gum who gives me pleasure every day. She changes colour depending on the light and when it rains her silvery bark runs green. This year she flowered in the most glorious way and the lorikeets were deliriously happy for a month. Bees collected so much pollen I saw a few struggling to lift off in order to fly. The lorikeets broke off branches in their enthusiasm which meant I could take the blossoms inside and enjoy their honey scent. Sure, I have to sweep up fallen leaves, pollen, blossoms and now gum nuts but look at the bounty she’s provided.
Any other thoughts?
I love the book you reviewed in the last edition of Earthed called The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben a forester who suggests that a forest is a social network that takes care of itself like human families do. Makes me think that the indigenous artist and elder knew stuff that we are only just beginning to grasp. And if you haven’t tried hugging a tree give it a go. Just watch out for ants 🙂