If I trace my research into communications with trees I remember a time, (1988) when I lived on Salt Spring Island. We were in a house overlooking an inlet where a pod of orcas swam by on their way north. If I walked on a path along the water’s edge I came to a tree. It was an Arbutus tree. The name “Arbutus” means ‘tree’ in Latin. These trees are unique to the region known as the Gulf Islands. Each one takes on a form and highly individual expression . Their trunks can turn and twist and curve – they can be wide but they can also be slender. Their bark will appear in one of three phases:
1. a plain rough grey
2. peeling layers of peach-orange, rust and burgundy – as if paper had been curled and attached to the trunk and
3. silky smooth reddish orange pink on naked wood – It shines when wet as if glistening moisture on skin!!
What was particularly wonderful about this is that my hips and pelvic region are not symmetrical but oddly formed around a chronic hip injury (my right femur sits halfway out of the socket and my right leg is shorter than the other). When riding a bicycle I have to adjust my imperfect form in awkward ways. But here, in the arms of my beloved Arbutus tree I was perfectly at home. This time in my life I was seldom away from my one-year-old son. From time to time I would reach a limit and would ask to go out for a solo walk – or perhaps I was sent out?! And I would go to this tree. I would sit quietly reflecting on my life perched halfway between heaven and earth.
At some point I noticed there was an exchange taking place. A friendship had developed so that when we moved away I said a tearful goodbye to that tree and inwardly from time to time my soul flies into the unconditional embrace of this dearly beloved tree friend.
If I trace even further back in my life I realize that both my father and my mother established close connections with trees near our homes – and for several years we lived in a house which backed onto the steep slopes of a ravine. A cluster of 5 mature red maple trees stood next to the house and my parents had a balcony built off a second-floor bedroom so my mother – who was ill and bedridden – could be outside in nature. It was this group of trees who became, magically and suddenly orange overnight in September one year… It was a monarch butterfly tree!!