I have the most humongous case of Tree Love and I’d like to infect as many people as possible. It’s not dangerous, nor will it give you any nasty side effects like some things but it is addictive and once you’re fully infected with the bug, boy will you know it!
I’d best explain what it is and how it manifests itself so that you can diagnose if you’ve got it or not and if so what stage you are at.
Tree love can be caught at any stage of life and depending on your beliefs you may even be able to get it in the afterlife, who knows. For me though, it happened about 25 years ago at a place called Mount Stewart in Ireland. I’d always had a few of the very minor symptoms of the infection but one day in 1993 it totally floored me. There I was wandering around the grounds of this beautiful stately home when I was suddenly struck by the total majesty and incredible beauty I saw when I looked upwards. These magnificent giants, these splendid works of nature that soured above and about me and appeared to be so very different from each other, however still able to exist side by side. Quickly I had this fleeting thought about what we could learn from this, how their diversity did not divide and cause them to attack and harm each other, no, they were in perfect harmony. Obviously in the early 90’s in Northern Ireland specifically Belfast for me I was drawing a very clear parallel to the diversity and differences of our beautiful people, which had caused so much hurt, pain and death. I couldn’t help but think how, as a species, we are supposed to be at the top of the evolutionary tree, really??? Back to the trees as they deserve the attention and not the insanity of man.
So how does this tree love disease affect a person? Firstly, you look up and you notice them, then you begin to think about them differently. You look at a mighty old oak that’s been around for well over 100 years and you begin to think, what has happened around this tree? What has it witnessed? How many children have played around it, lovers kissed beneath its branches and even battles lost or won on the land from which it takes its nourishment? How many animals have lived in and around it and how deep and far do its roots spread? Not to mention how much oxygen has its bestowed us with over the years of its life. So, stage one is noticing, becoming aware, looking and thinking differently at the trees you see.
Then stage two comes along and by this stage you are pretty much classified by your friends as an actual tree hugger rather than the kinda hippy version as you feel the need to share with others how wonderful and amazing trees are. This is a difficult stage of the disease as it’s the most uncomfortable phase as people who are not infected don’t get it at all, they just see big hunks of wood. You see beauty, wonder, mystery, and history.
Stage three gets a bit better as you go into the research phase of the disease and this is when you gets loads of fabulous facts to give people about how great trees are and what they do for us apart from the oxygen (as if that’s not enough). Firstly, you realise things like Maple Syrup comes from the sap of some Maple trees, rubber in the form of latex comes from the Para Rubber tree. Then there’s the essential oils we get from tree also like Frankincense, Copiaba, Siberian Fir and Ho Wood to name just a few. So basically, we can get medicines from trees as well. They can heal us and help us repair our bodies. At this stage of the disease you are revelling in the marvel of these truly almost divine creations that provide so much for us. Just think for a minute what a tree can give, Oxygen that we need to live, shelter either from rain under its branches or by giving us its wood to use for our homes, we get joy from looking at their beauty, we get paper from them, furniture, ornaments, we burn them in our fires, we build fences from them, we get medicine from them they give us so so much. So, as we experience this stage of the disease, we get all this information about the object of our affection and it’s all wonderful and we are so pleased will all the awesome stuff we’ve learned and it’s all good. Then we begin to move into the final stages of the disease.
Stage 4 is a humbling stage which is full of gratitude. It’s in this stage that our research has led us to discover that they can communicate with each other and that they are aware of the needs and struggles of other trees and not just trees right beside them but trees a distance away. They have a network of miniscule connections that allow mature or Mother trees to supply saplings with nutrients in a similar way to the way we feed our children. Trees can warn each other of dangers coming like lack of water and nutrition and they can support each other. They have an intelligence not in the way we have, but they are so much more than blocks of wood.
This final stage of the disease is the most significant as it’s at this stage that you comprehend it’s not a disease at all and you are totally normal. You realise that you just needed to go back to your roots (pardon the pun) in order to move forward, by that I mean our ancestors respected nature we learned to disrespect it, we need to change!