I'm Molly, and I'm a tree hugger. From when I was a little girl, my grandmother took me around to different parks, putting my hands and face on the trees and really experiencing what they were. We hugged maples, walnuts, birches and oaks. We walked under their boughs and listened to their songs. We scaled their heights and swayed with their bodies. The trees were my first friends, and have remained so throughout my life.
I have a few trees in my yard now that I've built relationships with, and a few in the park near my house. But the one I'm closest to is a beautiful oak tree. It's fairly young as oaks go, maybe thirty or forty years old, and its trunk is still rather slender. But it is strong and sturdy, with lovely glossy green leaves in the summer and a bumper crop of acorns. In the fall, its leaves turn a shining mahogany color, a rich brown that fills the back yard. When I first moved here more than three years ago, it caught my attention as being the most climbable tree in the yard - I just needed a step stool to give me a boost, not like the extension ladder I'd need to reach the lowest branches of the nearby maple.
I approached it as I would a new neighbor. I brought cool clean water and a cookie that I had baked, and offered them. I sat with the tree for awhile, getting to know its energies and showing it some of my own. For the next few days, I continued to offer water every day and stay for awhile to become more familiar. We didn't exactly communicate, I can't hear the voice of the tree or anything like that - but I began to get a sense of familiarity when I offered the water, as if the oak was growing glad of my presence. The next day I asked permission to climb the tree; and sensing no opposition, I got out my footstool and got up there. It hadn't been cared for in awhile, and there were many dead branches that had caught on their way down and needed to be cleared out. I got as many as I could, and then stayed for awhile in the swaying branches.
Since then we have begun what feels like the comfortable relationship of good friends. When I am outside, I make it a point to take a cup of water from the tap and pour it out near the base. I try to get up in its branches fairly regularly to help keep them clear of debris. This year, I've begun a nature journal to chronicle its changes from year to year.
I've heard many people say that the nature spirits are angry, that they are not interested in relationships with humans because of the large amount of damage our species has inflicted on the land. I have to say, this has not been my experience. I feel that, in general, the spirits of the land such as the trees are glad to be recognized. There are people like my grandmother who, though they are certainly not Pagan and in fact may be staunch Christians, have still acknowledged them throughout the years. I believe the nature spirits have missed us, and are waiting for conscientious humans to try and reconnect with them. So next time you're at the park, or if you have a special tree in your back yard, try and get to know it! I think they're truly interested in building relationships with us again.