A Confession

I love some trees way more than I should, but I’m not the only one.

Oregon Public Broadcasting recently aired a special, “My passion for Trees,” featuring Judy Dench. Yes, she was hugging trees, and I understand.

I wouldn’t be caught dead hugging a tree. I always make sure no one is around.

I may be a little crazy, but Lyanda Haupt, a brilliant writer and scholar, is not; she gave trees their own chapter in “The Urban Bestiary,” a book about birds and beasts every lover of urban wildlife should read.

Your Maple tree may not think, but some scientists are convinced a presence, an energy – even an awareness  – can be detected in trees. Some of us are drawn to that energy. Some of us feel we have a relationship with certain trees.

My favorite tree, a huge old oak in my back yard, may not be beautiful by some standards, but oh does that tree speak to me. She has homely, puny leaves and she’s a messy thing; but her branches are covered in moss and ferns, she has character, and she has beautiful bones.

I admit, I once wrote a private love letter to her.

July picture in full foliage. The leaves are very tiny but those bones are gorgeous.

During storms, I worry about my oak. How hard will the wind be on those old bones? What if she’s struck by lightening? I would mourn her loss. When I think about moving from this house some day, I secretly worry someone will see that she is old and messy and cut her down.

A mature Redwood with a dignified military posture, and beautiful red bark, stands in the yard behind ours. Planted long ago by a family still living in the area, though no longer in that house, the Redwood casts a large shadow over the very back of our yard. Last summer I saw a screech owl sitting on one of the lower branches. I have a great deal of respect for that Redwood and I’m so happy Scott, the present owner of the house, also treasures the tree.


A breath-taking old oak watches over Riverside Elementary School on River Road. Not the same kind of oak as my special tree, this one is perfection in shape with much prettier foliage. She is a huge spreading creature and I never drive by without admiring her. She is so big and all alone between the parking lot and street, I worry someone will decide she needs to go.

My friend Terence has some knowledge and convinced me this is probably a White Oak. January picture.

About a year ago, I walked into the school office to inquire about that tree. What kind of oak is it? Does someone take care of it? Maybe I was just fishing to know if they noticed and treasured her. I hoped someone knew a little about her history, but I instantly understood the puzzled look on the faces of the office staff. They were busy with a few hundred little people to take care of. I do like to imagine my making a fuss about the tree might have caused them to take more notice.

There are many distinguished trees in the area. I haven’t spent time learning to properly identify them, yet I’ve daydreamed about locating and photographing them. They should be memorialized before they are gone.

For now, I cherish a warm relationship with several of them.

10 thoughts on “A Confession

  1. I love trees too. I feel like they were my family before I came to earth and I will be with them again when I am gone. My oak shades me in the summer , keeps me busy in the fall, entertains me in the winter, but she is too busy for me in the spring. I love her too.
    Great blog essay- I love it. Smiling thinking of your hugged trees.

  2. Loved this! I loved watching the huge Sequia tree at our place especially during a wind storm! It was beautiful with it’s massive branches waiving in the wind! I have a few favorites at our new place too!! 😊

  3. I’ll never judge you for hugging your beautiful tree friends. I will always love that old, messy, homely, moss covered beauty in your backyard.

  4. Check this site for the process of saving a tree by declaring it a heritage: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/40280
    I react to trees the way you do. When I was about 12, a huge plum tree was my best friend, a refuge from a difficult family. After school, I would climb up in her branches carrying my clarinet case on a rope over my shoulder. Once high enough, I would assemble the instrument and play for the birds. I imagined that I would never have to come down. When I got hungry, I ate the juicy, purple plums.

    1. I will check out the site, and Thank you! And thank you especially for sharing a little bit of your story. My youngest daughter played clarinet and I loved it, so I can just imagine a twelve-year-old escaping into her very own world in the branches of a plum tree. Beautiful thing to share. Many thanks!

  5. We have majestic fir trees on our street. I look straight up among them and they feel like protection from all things bad. Like very tall moms.
    Thank you Susan

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