I Talk to the Trees

A rambling round about way of arriving at the topic of trees I know and love.

I’m not writing these days. For at least thee years this has been a relief, a time to crawl out from under the obsession that’s driven me for years. Time to admit that my life is not going to be measured by the number of books I’ve written.

But that raises the question – then what will I do that brings me joy and makes me feel like I’m worthy of the air I’m breathing?. (Really this is not so dark a time as it might sound.)  It’s summer. I’ve always enjoyed gardening, but did not become avid – yup, there’s that obsessive streak again – until the tree house, swing set, climbing dome, sandbox and badminton net made room for a different type of backyard creativity.

I love my garden.  Everything in my garden:  vegetable beds, sweeping curves of perennials, hanging baskets and pots. This spring I leapt into the labour of “down-sizing”, making this yard more manageable, because I sadly and simply don’t have the strength or energy required to cultivate the messy English country garden look. Just a bit of neglect and such a garden turns into a simple mess.

The result of my “gardening hard” to dig out plants, create space around the ones I love and put down bark mulch to showcase them and to attempt to thwart the weeds, is a pain that anyone could have warned me about. My back hurts. Big time. That sciatic nerve problem which I could have avoided with a bit of common sense and patience.

Yesterday I wandered around, trying out different postures and activity that didn’t make me wince and stoop and hold my back like a very old crone. I rose up out of exactly that position to discover that if I looked up, I was under the umbrella of a Burr Oak we planted some fifteen years ago.



Our yard, when we bought this house about 35 years ago, was blessed with a forest of poplars much like every other home in this area. An attempt by the builders to create the “well-established” look when the houses were new and raw. Poplars grow at the rate of — maybe 10 feet a year?  At least that’s what seemed to be happening a few years later. We began to take them down. Three removed because they were simply too much of everything; too many leaves to rake, too much shade, too much crowding. Two others taken down by summer storms.

In the last fifteen years we’ve begun adding trees because when I walk through the neighbourhood or meander through a nursery, I spot trees with brilliant colour and texture and they beg for a place in our garden. This is how we acquired two oak trees – saw them at a nursery and the helpful person there assured us that they were slow growing and it might be unlikely for them to reach their full potential in our lifetimes.  Fifteen years later (we’ve lived longer than the garden centre employeed expected), the tree in the sunniest location is easily 30 ft tall with a wingspan of 20 ft.


Other acquisitions that I love: Amur Maple, Dreamweaver columnar crabapple, and a funky little Sumac on which we took a risk because it really shouldn’t thrive in our zone. Sumac has procreated and there are now two children and a newborn.



I thought I would write about trees this morning, but the longer I sit here with my eyes on the forest outside my office window, I know that there’s nothing original for me to add to the canon.  In fact, I think Joyce Kilmour pretty much covered it, so long as one doesn’t have an aversion to rhyming couplets.




Joyce Kilmer 1886-1918


I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose lovely mouth is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing brest;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray.

A tree that my in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who ultimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.            .


Neither can I think of poem or song without thinking of the Smothers’ Brothers wonderful wackiness on trees and other things. The tree skit is very short.

And such a wistful post calls for a humorous ending:   http://tinyurl.com/jakgp63



One thought on “I Talk to the Trees

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