Being from New Hampshire it was always a joke between my friends and I that while other kids from cities were out partying, we had parties with trees, (since we have so many of them). In all honesty however trees are something that I have always taken for granted. As a child, The Giving Tree and The Lorax were part of my upbringing. Reading those stories along side The Man Who Planted Trees in an academic setting as a college student opens my eyes to the sacred nature of our planet’s forests, and brings out fond memories from childhood.
The house that I spent the first five years of my life in was a big, beautiful, red house across the street from a golf course in central Massachusetts. We called it “the red house” logically. We had a natural growing blueberry patch in our backyard, and a series of trails leading into the woods. I spent most of my time on these trails when the weather permitted it. My brother and I built forts and had a swing and even a seesaw. My father also had a close relationship with this part of our property. He loved reading books in the nicely shaded woods, and took an interest to building abstract sculptures out of the random objects of nature that he came across. His masterpiece was the bouquet of flowers that he planted in an old toilette.
My brother and I cried the day that we moved out of that house. My mother took a picture of the both of us together in my brother’s favorite climbing tree, tears filling our eyes. The amazing thing about this house was that so much of our entertainment came from the trees. We had an oasis in the woods that was an escape from the real world, which at that point in our lives was not even that “real” yet.
Seemingly mile-high branches scattered with green leaves and pine needles gave us a roof for our imaginations to run wild inside. Not only did our swing hang from an actual tree branch, but the seat itself was made out of wood as well. Our secret fort was built from wooden boards that were leaned up against the trunk of one of the largest trees on our property. Our wooden seesaw could rotate at the fulcrum, which lead to hours of precarious fun. The Giving Tree is just a children’s story about some made up tree that is uncharacteristically selfless, but that story is truer than I had ever considered.
Like the child in the story, I took and took from its plethora of resources without thinking that there may be a consequence down the road. Fortunately I never cleaned out a tree of all that it had to offer, or at least I hope I didn’t. I had the privilege of growing up surrounded by trees, and while I may have envied those who were out having parties I know now that there is nothing more precious than the earth’s natural beauty.