On my relationships with trees and forests

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.
The next best time is now.
~ Chinese Proverb

The Balsamean; Scribblements from Balsamea contains 34 posts about relationships with trees or forests, out of 128 total posts in the ten years from September 2012 to May 2022.  This is the 128 posts remaining after many were withdrawn from publication.  (There were also many drafted and never published.)  Still, of the published ones NOT removed, 34 of 128 are about trees, forests, and human integration with trees, or immersion in them.  That’s 27% of the total posts.  It is not enough.

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.
–John Muir


After my recent post about Hermann Hesse on trees, I decided to survey my posts on the topic, and list them here.  This may not matter to anybody.  It is primarily set as a milestone in a challenge to myself.  I want to make the percentage of posts on trees and forests go higher in the future, or at least never let it go lower.  You can partly blame Hesse for this renewed inspiration for scribblements on trees.  The rest of the blame is on the trees.  I am innocent!

If nothing else, there are some pretty pictures and wise quotes here.

There is another reason for posting this list.  There are a few particular people I know to whom it could matter if they read ten random choices from this list, if they were to see it.  (Best to scan the whole list before choosing any to read.)

As I said to one of them not long ago, “If you read the ten most recent posts in my blog, you would find you don’t know me.  Nobody does.”  This is normal, even inevitable, given my lifestyle for the past 20 years.

Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore.
There is always something to make you wonder
in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.
-Albert Schweitzer

One knows the best of me from my relationship with trees.  I am my best self when immersed in them.

People usually don’t know others.  They know their experience of others, as with most things except maybe math and science.

Not being known is only a problem when people think they know you, and believe things based on that fiction, and act on those beliefs, thinking you should understand, since it’s you they think they know.  “Why are you not the person I know you to be?  You ought to know better.”

It is a common human condition, stemming from the natural need to know and be known.  In classic human style, we are not so good at nature, including our own.  It’s why I like to be alone.  I’m much nicer to be with when I’m alone, and less needful, and less needed.  Safer in the company of trees.

So shoot me.  NO, WAIT!  Did I just say that?  In the United States of America?  Yipes!  I need some new idioms, and to remove the firearm-based ones.

Learn character from trees, values from roots, and change from leaves.
– Tasneem Hameed

My tree and forest relationship posts, as of June 1, 2022, in reverse chronological order (the excerpt for each entry is automatically displayed by WordPress from the beginning lines of the post, not my chosen excerpt):

Hermann Hesse on Tree Reverence – May 31, 2022
Some of my beliefs, thoughts, and feelings I am unable to express as well as others can do for me. Hermann Hesse is one example, particularly on the topic of relationship with trees. …

Oh, Red Viburnum in the Meadow – Ukraine’s Second Anthem – May 14, 2022  [Not really about my relationship with the viburnum, but about my relationship with Ukraine’s relationship with it.]  For the love of Ukraine. Слава Україні. Героям слава. Slava Ukraini. Heroyam slava. Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes. Слава в калині. Slava v kalyni. Glory to the kalyna. This is an “epic length” post, loaded with inspiring pictures and music …

Been Chickadeed – June 21, 2021  [This post is mostly about a visit from birds, but there are special trees in it that have a significant place in Balsamea’s history, and a new status, to be discussed in a future post.  They are the two red-orange maples in the center of this photo, just beyond the house.]  After the season’s last snow event in April, while pushing snow out of the path from the house to the shed, my attention was taken by several black-capped chickadees frolicking among the branches of the beech and maple trees straddling …

The woods are full of dead and dying trees, yet needed for their beauty
to complete the beauty of the living. … How beautiful is all Death!
– John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, 1938

Sixteen Years This Winter – November 24, 2020
For Nuala with gratitude That’s Nuala’s Maple in the header image above. (For those who missed it in an earlier post, Nuala is pronounced NOO-lah.) Tuesday Afternoon (4:56) Link to video Tuesday Afternoon by The Moody Blues Tuesday afternoon I’m …

Halloween Wind Storm – November 3, 2019
It scattered seventy trees across or into Balsamea’s 2.5 miles of trails. It’s seventy-give-or-take; I lost count a couple of times while stopping to think about how to deal with some of the fallen trees. Thinking never has been a …

Concordia’s Arbor Lane – September 24, 2019
Arbor Lane is the west boundary of Concordia. This is the approach to the Y, where Balsamea Way goes right and Arbor Lane goes left: Notice the little beech tree near bottom right center. In June 2009 the trunk was …

[Nature] is like a silent but sympathizing companion in whose
company we retain most of the advantages of solitude …

— Henry David Thoreau, Journal, November 8, 1858

Starring Nuala’s Maple Tree – September 22, 2019
(Continued from Nuala’s Tree and Concordia post.)  Nuala’s Tree is a red maple (Acer rubrum) with four partly intertwining trunks rooted at the edge of a big old pine stump. I dedicated the tree to Nuala in 2009 or earlier. …

Nuala’s Tree and Concordia – September 17, 2019
There are about 45 pictures on this page, including a few maps. It may load slowly. You can optionally open/download a PDF copy (6.24Mb) to read offline. This is the only long post in this series on Concordia. The rest …

Angel Wing Revisited – May 27, 2019 [Attached 58-page PDF file containing one or two large photos per page; a narrative on nature immersion in a hike, a meditation on my experience of the forest, accompanied by John Muir texts.]  Back by popular demand, this is the “fixed” version of Angel Wing in the Stream posted earlier. The PDF file here is MUCH smaller than before (80% smaller), so it should load much faster. It is downloadable, so you can …

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
— William Shakespeare, As You Like It
ANTHEM OF BALSAMEA

You get 61 trees for life – April 9, 2019  In her 2008 book, Between Earth and Sky; Our Intimate Connections to Trees, Nalini M. Nadkarni wrote on page 43, “I calculated that the world supports sixty-one trees for each person on Earth [in 2005]. … When I …

Thoreau’s Love for the Living Spirit of the Pine Tree – January 1, 2019  Harvesting (the pine timber on the 50-acre lot next to Balsamea) is one thing.  It’s another thing to kill thousands — maybe millions — of other trees and myriad other things living above and below ground to get that harvest, …

Wise and Chatty Trees – December 26, 2018
“As you’re walking through the forest, under a single footprint there’s 300 miles of fungal mycellium stacked end on end. … Can you imagine the activity that’s going on there? … Can you imagine that every time you walk, you’re …

There is no solitude in a forest. When in doubt, have a campfire.
– The Balsamean

Die as I should – November 24, 2018  [HIGHLY PERSONAL, BIOGRAPHICAL AND COVERS THE ORIGIN OF BALSAMEA]  Often when I walk these woods I get awe-struck by the enormity of all these trees cradling me, nursing me in mind and body, opening themselves to me, entreating me to surrender ever more fully to their care. I have …

Aranyaka – Part 1 – September 20, 2018   “The end of all scribblement is to amuse, and he certainly succeeds there.” –Lord Byron, Referring to Sir Walter Scott in a letter to Francis Hodgson, 1810 … even if I’m the only one amused As I say, I blog for my …

Aranyaka – Part 2 – November 3, 2018   Aranyaka Part 1 ended with a description of the Hindu goddess Aranyani in Rigveda Book 10 Hymn 146 and my personal look at it.  Here is another interpretation, by a qualified authority…

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
— William Wordsworth, The Tables Turned

Aranyaka – Part 3 – Thoreau, Shakespeare, Maharshi, Jung and Aranyaniism – December 30, 2018    If I were to invent a religion, it would be centered on forest immersion. It need not be a highly social alliance of souls, because silence and solitude are like vestments of immersion. Other critical …

Aranyaka – Part 4 (The End) – February 2, 2019   Aranyani is a member of a family of forest goddesses and legends around the world. Among many ways that Aranyani-like attributes appear, there is the goddess Abnoba, worshiped in and around the Black Forest … I respect the …

Cadivus – September 7, 2018
“God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, ‘Ah!’” —Joseph Campbell … for me, even a fallen tree. If looking at a tree can be a divine experience, or something transcendent, then what may be revealed or …

Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.  —  John Muir

Snow Falling from Trees Awakens – April 1, 2017
After half a foot of sticky, soggy snowfall overnight, today the temperature at Balsamea rose well above freezing. Along our trails, rapidly thawing snow showered from the trees everywhere in these dense woods, especially …

Fall Favorite Fifty at Five Hundred – September 25, 2015
Here are 50 of my favorite autumn color photos taken at Balsamea, at 500 pixels wide (or tall). If you’ve followed this blog a long time, you’ve seen these before. However, most of them managed to disappear from the blog, …

Oak Tree Trilogy Part 1 – Sentinel Oak – August 24, 2015  In 2005, the birth year of Balsamea, my father asked if there were any oak trees on the property. I had not seen them. Over time, I learned that there were many red oaks. They are one of our minority …

“… the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” —Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Oak Tree Trilogy Part 2 – Defiant Oak – August 31, 2015  “Oaks against the sky, Ramparts of leaves high-hurled, Staunch to stand and defy All the winds of the world; Stalwart and proud and free, Firing the man in me To try and again to try – Oaks against the sky. …

Oak Tree Trilogy Part 3 – Buddy’s Oak and Dad’s Question – August 13, 2016
Trees get so much attention in this drifting journal, The Balsamean, because they are easier to write about than people are, and trees often make better friends than most people do, and the tree fairies would sprout leaves green with envy in the middle of winter if I gave as much time to humanity as to them. …

The Junk Tree (Fagus grandifolia) – October 10, 2014
Six years ago a first-time visitor to Balsamea — call him Schmoe — looked at a young beech tree in the yard (then just a campsite) and asked, “What’s that doing there?” His tone seemed to imply that there was …

Whenever I have found myself stuck in the ways I relate to things, I return to nature. It is my principal teacher, and I try to open my whole being to what it has to say.  — Wynn Bullock

Early May Late Day in the Woods – September 18, 2014
What is it about a situation like this that seems to put something like vacuum pressure on the soul? The situation, the experience, the moment, not the picture. The picture is a good reminder of what it was like, but …

A Meditation on the Company of Trees, Aided by Forest Nymphs – April 27, 2014
During a slow sylvan saunter, if I stand still more than move, in bodily senses and in palpable transcendent essences I find reminders that nature made me to thrive among immortal woodland spirits, in refuge from the illusory blessings of …

Celebrating Ice Storm Tree Arcs at Balsamea – January 1, 2014  ARC: a part of the circumference of a circle or other curve … and sometimes much more than that, or inspiring it The ice storm of December 21-23, 2013 bent many trees at Balsamea. Here are some examples, and thoughts …

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live. — Hermann Hesse, Wandering

American Beech in Autumn; Balsamea Style – October 15, 2013
Cameras capture only a small fraction of the beauty in nature (especially my cheap Fuji). The autumn mix of banana yellow, toasted golden russet and pale lime green colors of American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia) often truly dazzle me.

Coming Home on a Forest Ghost Road – October 5, 2013
If you love the land, especially if you have family roots in a special place, read this heartwarming little article, Coming Home to Jadwin Forest by Gary Brown in the October 2013 issue of the New York State Conservationist, a …

A is for Apple – September 18, 2013
[The post says Balsamea has 2 apple trees; since then, 2 more have been discovered, and they are doing not so badly as the first two.]  God did NOT make little green apples. His mother did it. (As a Naturalist, I have to make that point.) For a place named Balsamea, you might think that A is for Abies balsamea, the scientific name for balsam fir …

A Short Hike at Debar Pond in Duane, NY – August 16, 2013
“Each phase of nature, while not invisible, is yet not too distinct and obtrusive. It is there to be found when we look for it, but not demanding our attention. It is like a silent but sympathizing companion in whose …

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. — John Muir

Winter Views Part B – February 13, 2013   No comment from me. Aren’t you glad? Click anywhere for carousel mode … better views and full captions. . Related Articles — THESE ARE VERY COOL. four ways to enjoy nature in winter (rebeccainthewoods.wordpress.com) Winter Storm Nemo (kieraworld.wordpress.com) Two ways …

Winter Wonderland – December 25, 2012
I shot these pictures today, 12/25/2012. I have better winter pictures from February 2012, coming soon to a blog scribblement near you, but today I wanted to share pictures taken today. This has nothing to do with Christmas, but boy-oh-boy …

Going beech nuts – September 5, 2012   We have many beech trees (Fagus grandifolia) at Balsamea, and many red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) very happy about it. One day I noticed one of our red squirrels tossing things out of one of our largest beech trees. They were …

And some of you have called me aloof, and drunk with my own aloneness,
And you have said,
“He holds council with the trees of the forest, but not with men.
“He sits alone on hill-tops and looks down upon our city.”
True it is that I have climbed the hills and walked in remote places.
How could I have seen you save from a great height or a great distance?
How can one be indeed near unless he be far?
– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet


The Mulberry Tree by Vincent van Gogh, 1889


Trees
by Joyce Kilmer – 1886-1918

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.


Identify a tree that is or was special to you.  Why?
How would/did you manage your feelings if it died?

You can post comments below or contact me privately.


17 thoughts on “On my relationships with trees and forests

  1. You continue creating an amazing amount of work; wow. I am sure that ‘your’ trees smile down on you and are like guardians – silent and always watching. it’s after five in the morning, and i’m just about to go to sleep – i worked on photos of birds and —- trees! —- all night, but oh, it was a great outing, and some really nice trees and light/shadow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks. Some of the trees are crying for help. More on that in a future post.

      Yeah, I guess 5 AM is about time to go to sleep. Speaking of sleep and of light, I sleep with the window blinds fully up, and no curtains, so that the morning light is waiting for me, and so that the moonlight can entertain me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • To tune into the rhythms of the day is the best and healthiest — when I was at Poza Honda, oh, those Screech Owls ‘purred’ for most of the night and were such a comfort – very near the house as if they were watching over me. This past weekend I was on the trails late – and one Screech Owl started purring earlier than norm – very very nice finale before trekking a few kilometers before it was pitch black/dark!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Love the way you tune!

          I’m sorry about my slow response. Had your message in mind much of the time I was not answering it!

          Rhythms of the day: I’ve started going out for a barefoot walk first thing every morning, before coffee or anything else. I’d have more to say about it, but it should be a separate post, because there’s a lot to say about a short walk here lately.

          We have owls, but I rarely see or hear one. I have seen the distinct marks of their crash landings in snow, going for a meal under it. My favorite owl sighting was 20 miles away when a great snowy landed on road-kill in front of me at night. I stopped and we studied each other a while.

          So, on the trails late? Tomorrow afternoon, I am headed for an overnight hike to a primitive campsite on a favorite lake. Nobody else has reserved any site nearby. I’ll be alone and never alone. Two purposes: gear test and moon photo shoot, if the clouds clothe it right. The moon will rise later than ideal, so I’ll be up late. It will be an immersion in the woods at night. Gear test because I need to do this more often.

          If I am good, I’ll write about it. Maybe have some moon-works.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I hope that your extended trek went well; yesterday three friends and I met before 6 in the morning to note the nocturnal species and then trek the longest trail. They later said it was 8K, which was longer than I thought. The bird of the day was a gorgeous ‘Striped Owl.’ It was perched low so easy to watch – such a lovely way to start that trek. I hope that your outing produced some great moments as well.

            Liked by 2 people

            • I would not call them great moments, but it was good. As for animals, I saw a couple of grebes and heard many loons doing all their repertoire. It’s incredible how loud they are. A pair swam by at a distance. I’ve seen them closer at the same pond (“pond” – a 4-mile-long, 90-foot deep lake, but a lot of things like that are called ponds around here). Sheesh, 8K? That’s about a mile longer than my longer hikes. I spend too much time exploring things along the way to get much farther, either just examining stuff or shooting pix to make it easier to examine enlarged later, or just wandering. So I guess a 4-mile hike could be more like 5 with the side wanderings. And, I can meander as much as I want because it’s almost always solo.

              Anyhow, here are some images and comments from my outing June 15-16:
              https://photos.app.goo.gl/WFPAue3774xXsZa29

              Liked by 1 person

            • great to get your update – the grebes are great little birds; i photographed four ‘lesser’ grebes yesterday. i’ve been in poza honda helping the absentee owner who is stuck in the andes where the protests continue. am back in the city for the weekend and then back to the refugio. the entire world is pretty dysfunctional right now – maybe we’re about to get a ‘restart.’ ?????

              Liked by 2 people

            • That is quite the party you’re having down there in equatorland. I have not followed it so far, just catching blurbs. I’m almost afraid to look closely at it. I hate to say it, but the way things are in the world, and with climate change, food shortage, autocratic advances, and greed rising in old and new places, increasing unrest and wars seem inevitable. I will educate myself on the latest trouble in Ecuador. The least I can do is know what is going on, although that is more than most will do. A reset. Hmm. Maybe Mother Nature is about to force one on us, like even more accelerated ice melt rapidly raising water levels in coastal cities. Maybe people will unite around that cause.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear The Balsamean,

    I have perused all of your pages and some of your most recent posts. There is a fair amount of maturity of thoughts in your posts, including this one. Thank you for your commendable efforts in being so empathetic and in putting yourself in the spirit of trees and forests via your connections to them and through your contemplation of their journey of life as they gradually reach their majestic statures in the fullness of time. I also love your choice of those quotations.

    I shall resonate with your post entitled “On my relationships with trees and forests” as follows:

    Factories don’t make oxygen. Trees do. Respect nature.

    This photo is also featured in my post entitled “The Quotation Fallacy“, which you can easily locate from the Home page of my blog.

    I love photos featuring magnificent trees full of character, and I often wonder what species of trees they belong to.

    Do you have some favourite tree species and/or cultivars?

    Happy July to you and your family soon!

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi SoundEagle. Thank you for the kind, insightful and supportive feedback. I like to say that I get lucky and post something “good” now and then, but I also say that I blog for my entertainment, so if I had fun, it was “good,” whether for readers or not. However, I have deleted probably as many posts as remain now published, when I saw them in the rearview mirror, out of pity for the readers. Thanks for the tree oxygen pic. It’s a nice addition to this post!

      Favorite species … I think for me it’s like “which trees are in most favored status for now.” I guess overall the red oaks have had most-favored status the most often over the years. That arises partly from the negative impact of over-populating deer on them, and partly from a story about my father in https://thebalsamean.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/oak-tree-trilogy-part-3-buddys-oak-and-dads-question/ (Oak Tree Trilogy Part 3 – Buddy’s Oak and Dad’s Question).

      I’ll pop over and explore your site.

      Thanks again. See you on the wires.

      – Dennis

      Liked by 1 person

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