When I was a teenager my parents owned 20 acres, mostly forest.
It was in Quebec and the forest contained Maples, which made for a colourful autumn every year.
Our forest also contained cedars and I loved the smell of them.
Walking in the forest in summer or snowshoeing in winter boosted my mood and all my sadness and anxiety melted away.
Hanging out in the forest was one of the few times I could feel the presence of what some call “God.”
Poet Joyce Kilmer (1886 – 1918) wrote:
“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”
The last time my husband and I lived around big trees was over thirty years ago on a farm near Picture Butte.
We rented a house and there was a wonderful shelter belt made up of old cottonwood trees around us. I loved the sounds of the birds that nested in them and the sound the wind made as it blew through.
When we left there, we bought a new house and planted trees. Before they were big we built another new house and planted trees there only to move again to the acreage in a hay field. We planted trees and watched them grow for 14 years.
Now, we have moved to Lethbridge and my goodness there are a lot of trees. In our area they are probably about 60 years old or more. I believe the majestic trees at the Research Station are now over a hundred years old.
Our mental and physical health can improve just by being near them and absorbing their good vibrations.
Studies on forests, trees and mental health show the therapeutic effect of spending time in forests.
There is a Japanese noun, “Shinrin-yoku,” which is a visit to the forest for relaxation.
Some call it forest bathing. A couple of hours in nature reduces stress hormones and activates healing and repairing of the body.
I think most avid campers and back-country hikers know all about the bliss you feel when the May long-weekend arrives and you escape the city madness and enter the cathedral of the forest.
We should respect our forests.
Trees provide shade and oxygen as well as food, homes, and heat if we have a wood stove.
There are about 100,000 different species of trees in the world.
Some of you have been lucky enough to see the giant Sequoias. One of these redwoods, named General Sherman, is located in Sequoia National Park in California and is believed to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old. It is more than 100-feet around at the base and towers 275-feet above the ground.
I am most familiar with the Trembling or Quaking Aspen. Aspens are amazing because they are found in large colonies, all attached by a huge underground root system.
When you see one Aspen grove turn the same colour in the fall at the same time, you know they are all genetically identical — clones.
Pando, or the Trembling Giant, is a massive colony of Aspen trees spreading over more than 100 acres in Utah.
Every tree shoots from a single organism and at almost 7,000 tons is the heaviest living organism on the planet. They figure it has been alive for 80,000 years.
So if you are feeling down, go walk among trees. Hug one.
Don’t mind what others might think; do it for your mental, physical and spiritual health.