We experienced a horrific storm here in Ojai the other day. I knew we were in for some ‘weather’ because I had broken my ribs on the right side of my body many years ago, and they get achy hours before it grows damp outside. I’m a walking barometer! I awoke that morning to the sound of gale force winds and falling rain banging on our bedroom windows as if it had to come inside or perish. Personally, I don’t like the wind. I’m like my horse that way; it makes me feel like there’s some type of danger lurking around the bend. I feel chaotic inside my body and I go into hyper alert mode. I’m not much of an alarmist, but I definitely had a foreboding feeling as I stepped outside with my husband to attend to our animals. Our dog, Emma, God’s purest expression of joy, was glued to my side, tail tucked, head down. She usually romps with such exuberance and freedom. If I hadn’t been feeling apprehensive myself, I’d have thought that Emma was abducted by aliens and replaced with a ‘walk in.’ It took us several hours to clean, feed, and settle the critters, (chickens, bunnies, guinea pigs). Battening down the hatches with tarps for extra protection made me feel like I was on board The Andrea Gail preparing to face ‘the perfect storm.’
All day long, the tempest raged. Even in the comfort of our home, Emma and I were behaving like nervous Nellies. Right before sunset, the winds stopped, and the rain fizzled to a drizzle. We stepped outside to check on the animals. It was eerily quiet, and the yard looked as if it had been through a blender; bits and pieces of tree limbs and shiny, newly sprung leaves were strewn everywhere. Walking the entire property, we discovered that we had lost a pepper tree and a pine tree, but what brought me to my knees was an uprooted oak tree. I love, love, love the mighty oak. They grow abundantly here in California. This particular oak was probably well over 100 years old. It felt to me that she had intentionally missed our barn by inches.
After the initial shock of seeing this magnificent, old tree felled, I walked over to her, touched the trunk of this fallen angel, thanked her for gracing our home, for being, and then I cried at the sight of her demise. For me, losing a tree hurts like hell. I’m a tree climbing, tree hugging, tree planting nutter.
Trees ground me. They’re a perfect balance of heaven and earth. Trees reflect an uncanny willingness to join earth and sky through their roots, trunks and branches and channel the energies of both. They dance with the wind, change with the season, grow tall and strong, quietly, devotedly — embracing their beauty, and realizing their potential. They’ve mastered the fine art of ‘give and take.’ Their roots absorb from the earth what they need, taking in moisture from the soil, returning it into the air via their leaves. They welcome with open arms the light from the sky, using it to nourish its foliage, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, promoting good, clean air for us to breathe. They are a shining example of an ever-evolving ecosystem with an easy-going, co-operative work ethic that we can only hope to model some day. They give us shelter, fire, fruit, lumber, soil, paper, and shade, and house many a critter.
Please don’t tell my girl, Emma, but…a tree just might be man’s best friend—the most noble and giving form of life here on earth!
Do yourself a favor…Sit beneath, beside or in front of a tree. Now wait, wait, and wait some more. Be still, very still. For here you will find the possibility of growth.