Lesson from a Bunch of New Leaves

10 reasons to love trees

A new leaf outside my office window coming to life in the spring 2017

The Backstory

When you look at the stories I’ve written over the last two years, it’s fairly obvious that nature inspires a lot of my stories. I even have a “Nature Objects” tab on my Lessons from Ordinary website to feature them.

But, I’ve noticed a theme… within nature, I find myself drawn toward trees. I love trees. What they represent and endure, not to mention what they would say if they could talk. Trees showcase some of the best life symbolism there is… and we wouldn’t live like we do without them.

You can tell a lot about a person’s character by the way they treat a tree.

That’s why in this story, I’d like to dig into what makes trees so special and why I find they provide some of the best life lessons. What is it about the life of a tree and a new leaf that is worth cherishing?

The Object

Indoor, 9-year old Money Tree still sprouting new leaves

If you live out in the country or an area that has a great park, it’s pretty easy to see the signs of spring… not just the robins flying back… the beginning of the green awakening.

New leaves. I’m always thrilled to see leaves coming back, especially on trees I planted last year.

Not to mention the new growth of weeds in the driveway!

But, sometimes new trees don’t make it through the winter… and the ones that do need some cheering on, tender-loving-care, and more trees planted nearby! Is it possible to have too many trees? I don’t think so.

What Trees Mean to Us

The sprouting leaves this spring encouraged me to ask myself some tough questions. Why do I focus on trees so much? Why do they provide some of the best life lessons? So, I put together a top ten list!

TOP TEN REASONS TO LOVE TREES

1. Endurance
Mature trees are tough and can really stand up to certain climate conditions. In my office at work, I have a money tree sitting on my desk that I got in 2008. I bought it when I started working at The Ohio State University, and it’s still alive!

Amazing, because it’s been through no less than 6 different offices… 5 of them with windows, fluorescent light, natural light, and LED light. The type of LED light it’s under now isn’t great for what it really needs to grow, but the big windows keep it stable. It’s crazy that it’s still alive and kicking.

2. Strength in roots
Have you ever tried to transplant a small tree? You know… the small ones that have one branch coming out of the ground. If you have, then you know it’s no small feat to untangle the roots from the soil and save enough of them to keep the tree alive. There is strength beneath the surface… you don’t need to see it, in order to feel it.

3. Passive longevity
Trees can live a long time, if we just leave them alone. The oldest tree in the world, according to this article from Live Science, is 5,062 years old as of 2016. Just imagine what stories this tree would tell.

4. Renewal healing
Trees have a way of healing from some pretty serious injuries, but it takes a really long time. Take the following example from 2 years ago…

Maple tree healing after being injured by power line repair workers

I wish those tree butcher power line crew members were more careful.

More intentionally, take this apple tree I pruned from 3 years ago…

Apple tree healing and showing some fully healed areas after being pruned

If the tree is healthy and stable enough, it’ll heal… it just takes patience, but the wounds do eventually close up.

5. The will to live
While some trees live a long time, others are not so lucky. Yet, when the unlucky trees face hardship, they do whatever they can to survive. Take the fate of the ash tree as it fell to the emerald ash borer.

In my yard, as the trees slowly choked to death, they grew sprouts from the base of the tree… really close to the ground and roots… a last ditch effort to try to gasp for air and sunlight to stay alive. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.

6. Protection for everyone
Trees don’t discriminate… they protect everyone. If you need shade on a hot day, a tree will serve you. If you need oxygen to breath (I know you do!), then a tree will serve you.

7. Creation of memories
Some of the greatest memories growing up were because of trees. I had these big maple trees in the yard, and I climbed all over them and used them for so many imaginary structures while playing. My friends and I even played a version of tag where we could only run in the shade of the trees… jumping from one shade tree to the next. Those were the days!

8. Life support
When was the last time you thanked a tree? Why not? Is doing so too silly? If you’re sitting or leaning on something made of wood right now, then you should thank a tree. Our shelters, our air, our livelihood is possible because trees exist, and it’s our duty to protect them and help them grow.

Buckeye tree beginning to come to life in the spring 2017

9. Follower of light
I wish I could follow the light as good as a tree does… mine is symbolic though, whereas a tree is literally following the light. Trees grow tall really fast in a forest to catch the rays in small holes in the canopy, or if you’re that money tree in my work office, then you need turned every now and then to stay balanced. We should all strive to see and follow the light.

10. Inspires thought leaders
At last… trees have inspired philosophers and thought leaders, since the beginning of time, so this had to be in my top ten list.

Just check out these two quotes:

“The harder the wind blows; the stronger the tree grows.” ~ Stephen Holloway
“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” ~ Nelson Henderson

The next time you need to reflect, think, or just get away, trying going outside and sitting next to a tree. You’ll be shocked at what it will tell you.

The Lesson

Up to this point in my Lessons from Ordinary publishing journey, I’ve written 37 stories… 12 inspired by nature (32%) and 5 tree-specific (14%)… or 42% of my nature stories involve trees. I imagine those stats will go up, as I continue to be a champion for the trees.

My Lessons from Trees… so far…

The take-aways from new tree leaves:

  • We should all strive to see and follow the light.
  • There is strength beneath the surface… you don’t need to see it, in order to feel it.
  • If you take care of a tree, it will return the favor exponentially.
  • Plant a tree, so the next generation can see and love what trees offer.

So there you have it. Ten great reasons and several stories about why trees are awesome. I can’t wait to see what trees inspire me to write about next!

Okay, this is a bush, but it’s cool!

Written by Shaun Holloway.