Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tree Pulse: The Art of Tree Hugging

In the past when I hugged a tree, it was for an entirely different reason; the pulse is new to me. Of course I did not plan on becoming an expert in the art of tree hugging. However, I am what one would refer to as an authentic tree hugger.

It happened unexpectedly one morning when I was overcome with emotion while standing in the middle of a shady, deep, well established, pine grove. I didn’t know what to do. I thought of screaming (a good healthy scream), but decided against shattering the peaceful dawn chorus.

Suddenly, I found myself embracing a giant pine – well over one hundred years of age – my arms didn’t come close to reaching the halfway point. I gained a new respect for the forest and will never view a tree the same way again.

There is a gathering of young trees in a clearing behind the house. I first became a part of this sacred circle when I felt the pulse of the smallest tree, which I believe to be a Silver Maple. When leaning with my back against it, I sensed a strong, throbbing, rhythm. It reminded me of my childhood days when we dared to touch the electric fence, only without the painful jolt.

I tried to understand where this pulse was coming from. I considered that the young tree was absorbing water from the nearby, swollen, pond that had been dry for the past few months. Then I imagined that it could possibly be the heart beat of the Earth and that tendrils from the tree’s woody roots were woven intricately around a vein, tapping into Gaia’s life source.

The cluster consists of a mix of Ash and Maple with various smaller plants such as High Bush Cranberries and an assortment of Evergreens along the border. I approached each tree within the circle – also young, but bigger in diameter and a bit taller – and pressed against them in search of a pulse. I did not detect any pounding whatsoever. Perhaps Bach was inspired by such a phenomenon when he composed his Cello Suites or Violin Sonatas and Partitas, as the Silver Maple was unaccompanied.

I am an artist, historian, and naturalist… not a scientist. In the wild, I operate on past experience, pure logic and trust my intuition. Being inquisitive is a trait that I honor and it often leads to a great deal of research. However, this time I didn’t rush to the computer or bookshelf immediately in an effort to comprehend why the tree had what seemed to be a heartbeat. I preferred to simply relish the possibility instead.

About a week later I returned to the circle and leaned against the young tree. The pulse was reassuring. I wondered what it would feel like if I pressed my own heart against the rough, greenish speckled, bark. I sensed the rhythm, but for some reason the sensation was more pronounced through my spine.

Again, the other trees – without a distinguishable pulse – stood by as silent witnesses. Pondering the tree, I returned to my walk in the woods. I decided that I didn’t need to know; it is more significant to accept it and be grateful.

It is uplifting to see the tree outside of the window. When I go out to visit the pond and walk in the woods, it has become a ritual to pay my respects to the sacred circle and unite with the tree. At times the pulse is minimal, yet always detectable. I have related it to the underground water flow as this region is abundant with aquifers. It may or may not be the source.

When I feel the heavy hand pressing down upon my chest (as I do from time to time), I find myself amongst the inner circle. One afternoon as I stared at the crown of the youngest, at its wiry, leafless branches waving against an unpredictable sky, I knew that I mustn’t become dependent on the comfort, hope, or surge of energy that I experience while in unison.

When I approached the tree this morning, I embraced it with my own heart beating against the slender trunk. The others remained steadfast, nodding quietly in the mild, damp, wind – awareness emerged from grayness. It is human nature to grasp tightly onto the good things – things that we think that we love, not wanting to let go in fear of losing it and tragically not realizing the power of the ultimate grip of death, which does not only apply to living organisms, but to thoughts and dreams as well.

I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that if I rely on the tree, I am not honoring the experience for its worth. We are to be mutual in our existence.

Journal: Scarlet Lily – Babies Breath
                (Higher Souled Aspirations - Nature)

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