Hello Fellow Humans on the Path. I hope you have had time to select the tree friend you plan to observe. Maybe you chose one of our showy friends, like the sugar maple or Kwanzaa cherry, or the mighty oak. I selected one that grows beside our lower deck. Anne and I sit on the upper deck every chance we get and have many opportunities to observe this friend. It was a bit challenging to identify, as it has many common features. This is the Black Gum. Sometimes in identifying trees it is important to stand back and get the whole “gestalt” of it, the shape, how the limbs grow. This one has limbs that grow at a 90-degree angle or even droop down and that is its main distinction. Can you see in the photo how the limbs are pointing down and not reaching for the sky?

The Black Gum is not used much for firewood because of its intertwining fibers that make it difficult to split. This also makes it unappealing to use for making furniture. However, the trunks often become hollow and bees love to make their hives there and other critters love to use it for shelter too.


This is what it looks like now in the autumn. The leaves are slightly shiny and beginning to turn red. The Robins love the berries and sit high up in this tree having a berry party every evening, much to Anne’s dismay. The berries do tend to stain the deck blue and it is easy to step on them and smear them all over. So, it isn’t the best friend to have so close to the deck.

None the less, I do love this tree. The tree has been there much longer than this house and the builders pushed a lot of dirt high up onto its trunk years ago, shortening its life span. In effect it began a slow process of suffocating the tree. Imagine being buried up to your neck in sand. Right! Not a pleasant thought. A tree needs to have its roots closer to the ground and to have the “flare” showing – imagine where your ankle joins your foot and that area is the “flare” of a tree. This area should be free of soil, mulch stones or anything really. So, I began the process of digging a huge hole around the tree all the way down to where the roots and flare began. Then I had to build a slatted walkway over this hole so we didn’t fall in as we went about our daily chores and the tree could get air and water. That was eight years ago, and our friend continues to thrive!

I would love to hear about your tree friend. Send a photo and something about your connection to your tree. I would be happy to post it here in the VOICE of THE TREES

May the Forest be with you.

Have you ever looked at a tree and imagined that you were the tree looking at you? It is not easy to take on that perspective. In fact it takes practice – lots of it – and of course a willingness to hear. You may know something about this already. Perhaps you have tried this “seeing from someone else’s eyes” with a loved one? Or if you are really courageous perhaps an enemy. Maybe you have had a sick infant or pet or elder in your life, who was hurting, but could not tell you what was wrong. You may have tried to become them, to understand what they were experiencing so that you could try to help. If you can relate to any of these situations, terrific. You are already skilled at “tuning in”.

The trees, just like any and every living thing just want to live. Basically to be what they were created to do, which is just to be. And in their being they give something back to every other living being. And guess what? This is actually true for all of us too. Yep, just by truly living or being in your “is-ness”, you are fulfilling your purpose and giving to every other living creature.

A tree creates air for more complex species to breathe – like us humans for instance. By transmuting the used up air animals exhale (carbon dioxide) they make more oxygen for them to breathe. That in and of itself is a huge service to the planet.

A tree, by just standing there makes shade, thereby cooling over heated more vulnerable living things. For instance, the trees that grow by brooks and streams shade the water and keep it cool. When the water is cool, the fish thrive and can grow and multiply. When the trees along water way are removed, the water heats up and the fish can no longer live well there and die off.

A tree is a natural air conditioner!

Some trees provide food for animals and human. They provide shelter and homes for birds, insects, squirrels, bears and many more. The strength of their trunks and branches have been fashioned into homes and furniture for humankind for thousands of years.

Today I invite you to begin a relationship with a tree. Maybe you already have many tree friends, but if not pick one that you pass on your daily route to and from home and begin to notice everything about it throughout each season. Keep a journal about what you discover about your new friend.

May the Forest be with you.