Sunday Gratitude: Among The Trees

Redbud, Class of 2026 tree planted in April 2019

Hooray, hooray, first day of May! And according to the forecasters, we might actually have real spring day–not the blustery chill of the last week. The leaves of trees are in their golden green phase now–popping out into the sweetest tiny versions of their future selves. The trees which remain full grey still–the two oaks that fill my yard with leaves and caterpillars–will soon be unable to resist spring themselves. And yes, the flowering trees which each year delight me with their extraordinary joy–thank you, magnolias, redbuds, Cornelian cherries and crabapples. And forsythia–not a tree but extraordinary messy joy nonetheless.

You will know by now that the joy in the trees makes me grateful every day–for my volunteer role at Weston Forest & Trail Association where I get to spend every day on a trail “working” among the trees (we built a new trail yesterday with pickaxes and loppers–and that was indeed work), for my volunteer role as the Fifth Grade Tree “warden”–each year dedicating a tree to a class of energetic wonderful kids, and for each of the trees I plant each year in my yard. Watching them grow–the tupelo now reaching for the sun faster and faster, the willow struggling onwards after the deer attack it each winter– a lesson in its (and nature’s) will to live, the bur oak tiny-tiny even next to the daffodils, but trying. Growing. The mighty oak was once an acorn that held its ground, I believe the saying goes.

Bur oak one month aftter planting, June 2021

This shall be a week of trees as we head into Town Meeting and thoughts of who we are as individuals and what we want to be as a community. While I have stayed as quiet as I can be about the upcoming Town Meeting and the tree by-law, I cannot not speak for the trees– not only because they have no tongues but because as Mary Oliver says better than anyone, they save me and daily.

For today, though, it is all just gratitude for being among them. And to Mary Oliver, for saying it better than I ever could. And now away, to the woods.

When I am Among the Trees

-Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

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