When I think about February, I usually think about Valentine’s Day and Winter. My plan was to write about one or both, however, I decided I wanted to share a different observation this month. I recently started reading “The Hidden Life of Trees” and have a whole new appreciation of trees and their purpose, other than their impact on the environment and their beauty that greets me every day.
Walking through the forest in the winter, I am amazed at what trees can tolerate. They survive extreme weather conditions from freezing temperatures and high winds to drought and heat. I am awed by their stripped down stillness. Exposed to the elements they stand tall and majestically against the winds blowing off the Hudson River.
I wonder what their roots look like under the snow and earth. Tree roots grow beyond the span of the diameter of the tree and at least just as far or double the distance downward and outward. There is new research on how they communicate with neighboring trees through this root system. Wow! Words that bubble up for me while staring at trees are steadfast, enduring, resilient, unwavering, rooted, collaborative and faithful – all qualities I aspire to.
From my office window, I love to look out at two tall fir trees that appear like a loving couple, holding hands, staring out at the river watching boats gliding down the Hudson and enjoying the sunrises. Together, they have protected an eagle family, squirrels, hawks and other varieties of birds. Sometimes they appear as two steady soldiers protecting our street and neighborhood.
Whenever I am feeling disconnected or vulnerable, I imagine myself as a tree. I practice tree pose and other standing yoga poses with my attention on grounding and rooting into the earth. This can immediately shift my frame of mind.
In the Winter, some trees lose their leafy coverings and are naked to the world. I love viewing trees this time of year so as to see the details of their entwined branches. I clearly see the grey sky, snow or water peeking thorough the space between each branch and their trunks plunging down into the snow or the bare earth. As I walk through the forest in the wind with my protective winter coat on, I acknowledge I could never be a tree that lost leaves in the winter. I sense the many powerful qualities of trees.
As the sun begins to set at a time that feels like the middle of the day, I am curious how the trees must feel standing for so many hours in darkness.
Walking through the forest on a winter’s day, is a metaphor for what the winter months can reveal. Going deep down inside of ourselves during the darker and colder months of the year can help us grow stronger, bare fruit and nourish our environment. Sometimes going down into the darker, more vulnerable parts of ourselves can feel like a root hitting a rock or compacted earth. If it can push through the resistance or somehow find it’s way around, it will blossom in the Spring, grow taller and stronger.
Things that inspire me
A song to warm your spirit
More on how trees communicate