This blog should have been posted in early November, but circumstances beyond my control prevented it happening. Rather than let this one go and write a new one, please let me take you back to the end of October early November!
This autumn nature presented us with a magnificent kaleidoscope of colour. As the leaves change ready to fall we have been witness to a spectacular display of copper, gold, brown, red, and orange tones. This is my favourite time of year when trees prepare themselves for the winter ahead. The leaves fall and nurture the ground to lie dormant awaiting the onset of spring.
I’ve loved trees since I was very young. I grew up in rural Buckinghamshire with green belt woodland at the end of our garden and the vast forest of Burnham Beeches a short walk away. I would escape into these woods when ever I could, believing them to be magical. Here I felt safe, relaxed and energised.
Years ago when I was going through a bad patch emotionally, I took a walk across Bushy Park which was minutes from my house. I came across a tree completely hollow inside, just a thin semi circle of trunk remaining. Looking up I saw that its branches were covered in luscious green leaves despite its lack of trunk. I remember saying to myself if this tree can survive with such damage then so can I.
Recently I was cheered when reading an article on trees by scientist Peter Wohlleben. Following a study of trees over 20 years he has written a book on how trees communicate with one another, how they protect themselves from predators, how they feel and how they heal. He was confirming what I have always believed.
When I am not near trees I feel bereft. Although I had an orchard in my garden on the Somerset Levels there were very few trees around. There were stunning rows of poplars and willows (not the weeping kind) but a great deal of open treeless space. I found I needed to travel regularly to woodland up on the Quantocks, or south to Wayford Wood, to replenish my energy. Now in Dorset I am lucky they are all around me every where I go.
There are numerous lessons we can learn from trees, but the main one being that we too can survive healthily after being hurt or damaged. Consider this time of year to be when we can rest and recuperate like the leaves on the earth; nurture ourselves through winter ready for action next year. Maybe you would like to try an exercise that helps me? If you feel you are being bullied or aggressed by others, imagine you are a large oak tree. Stand firm and upright feet firmly on the ground. Imagine roots from your feet travelling deep into the earth securing you and strong branches reaching outwards from your arms and up into the sky. Try it! You will feel strong and powerful; it is difficult to knock an oak tree over!
The Hidden Life of Trees: What they feel, How they Communicate By Peter Wohlleben published by Greystone Books £16.99.