Is it possible to feel close to a tree? I ask because I’m unsure. But there is a particular tree I know that, when I’m feeling down or miserable, or that the world is an unspeakable place full of unspeakable people, I can go to, and simply by touching it, regain something of my old serenity, equinamity or simply that there are still some things in the world that are good.
I am not religious, particularly, nor am I a traditional pagan type of tree-worshipper. Indeed, in the past I’ve been quite ruthless with trees that don’t fit in the with the local plan, or I think have been planted in the wrong place.
But this one tree is old. It’s a survivor, living on after many of its fellows became sick, diseased and died. I’ve walked past it from time to time for over 20 years, and never really noticed its existence. It’s a tree. You know? Just a tree.
And yet, and yet more recently I’ve noticed it. I don’t know if it’s because now that I have more time in my life I’ve become more aware of small things, but there’s something about this particular tree.
I became aware of it when I noticed that I enjoyed feeling its leaves brush over my head. Now I’ve brushed past many trees in my life while out walking, or even working in the garden. But I’ve regarded them simply as part of the landscape. Or perhaps as a minor irritation because of their tendency to drop spiders and small insects onto you as you brush by.
But for some reason, having the leaves of this tree brush against my head gave me a pleasurable sensation, almost as if someone was giving me a small head massage.
Of course this happened a few times before the sensation registered on my consciousness. But once it did, I realised this was unusual. So I went back to test it. And sure enough, having these leaves brush over my head does something, it gives a strange relaxing feeling, almost a kind of healing.
How can a mere tree be responsible for transmitting feelings like this? I do not know. But I cannot deny that something unusual is going on, and that it makes me feel good.
So when I was feeling more than usually down yesterday, I went out deliberately to this tree amd stood underneath it for a while. More than that, I placed my hands on the trunk. A tree-hugger no less! I can hear your laughter already. But it made me feel better. More than that, it made me feel warm, sheltered, protected even.
Is it possible for a tree to communicate in this way? I wouldn’t have thought so, but I had no doubt that after some ten minutes I felt a lot better about the world and my place in it. It may only be the meditative aspect of standing still and communing with nature, but I think there was more. There is something special about this tree.
What that something is I do not know, since it is not in a special location. But it is almost as if some kind of spirit resides within, a spirit that understands and is in tune with its surroundings. This is starting to read as very Tolkienesque I know, but I cannot deny that contact with this tree gives me a good feeling.
So am I become a tree-worshipper now? Some kind of pagan liable to disappear into the forest on midsummer nights to participate in strange rituals? My friends would certainly look strangely at me if I mentioned it.
So I do not, except on these pages. Because I feel that some special link has been established between myself and this tree. And it may work for other people, but it may not. And if it doesn’t work for others, then there is always the risk of petty jealousy destroying something beautiful but impossible to understand. So this tree and its location must remain a secret.
Of course this entire story about a tree and its unusual properties, an ability to calm the troubled soul, could be a fiction. I could be making up the whole thing. So you may choose to laugh at it as you wish.
But then again, it could be true.
© Philip Hunt, 2019.