The Tree Factor

Reason to Hike #2: Trees

I like trees, a lot.  And if it weren’t for the term “Tree Hugger” and the fact utility companies and developers too often exhibit disdain for trees and treat them as nothing but space taker-uppers, I would assume my love of trees falls within “normal” range.2011-bell-curve

In any case I attribute my love of trees in large degree to my father, who- surprisesurprise– is an Englishman.

My father is gah-gah (a term he himself would choose) about the trunked, leafy things.  So much so that when I was a no taller than his knees he transported (smuggled) London Plane Tree saplings from his family home in Blackheath, England to Massachusetts wrapped in dampened cloth handkerchiefs.   I would guess that before the unpacking of pants, socks and undies, he attended to the planting of these tender trees-to-be.  With great sweat and care he dug holes for them in our backyard and other places around town.

Besides Plane trees (they’re got beautiful bark),


my father’s also nutty about Beech trees, Catalpas and Black Walnuts.

And, oddly, as much as he loves his trees and encouraging their growth and vigor, he also loves cutting them down.  In getting older, lame and enfeebled what he misses most about his younger years is having the muscle power to take an ax to a tree and the ability to spend a day constructing a mighty brush pile and setting it on fire.

He loves a good bonfire.    bonfire

The point I sent out with here and soon lost?  That a hike without trees is no better than the seaside without beaches.  Worse really.

Here are a few things I love about trees on a hike:

  • The dusty, ancient smell of hemlocks
  • The springy humous of their decayed parts
  • The mushrooms that grow on their roots and trunks
  • The whoosh of wind in their leaves
  • The molten red of oaks, and the eyeball blasting yellow of beeches in autumn
  • The spine tingling creak of a tree in a storm
  • The chipmunks, owls, raccoons, fisher cats, skunks, weasels, and other furry and feathery things that live in them
  • …. etc.      owl-camouflage-disguise-13 (
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2 Responses to The Tree Factor

  1. I am complete agreement. My current quest is to bring sturdy Belarusian style birch trees home. Which is completely illegal, and I’m finding pretty much impossible anyway.

    • helenhikes says:

      Hello over there in Belarus Kristina! So one solution to the Belarusian Birch question is- photos! I’d love to see some photos of them taken by you of course. Cheers!

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