My typical haunts for photowalks are churchyards, villages, fields and woodland.
In recent months I’ve been staying more local – in part due to pandemic guidance, and in part just to explore my “backyard” more closely – which has consisted mostly of the woods at the back of our house, criss-crossed with public footpaths.
These tree lined adventures have reminded me of a few things.
Not least of all how lucky I am to live in a rural and pretty part of the county (and country) where nature is on my doorstep.
It’s also restored and heightened my relationship with trees.
One of my earliest memories of school is cross country running though a local woodland estate.
I was pretty good at it, and had excellent stamina, so on this occasion I was comfortably ahead of the pack, and remember hearing that steady swoosh whoosh cadence of my feet slicing through the autumn leaves that carpeted the woodland floor.
And virtually nothing else.
That silence, that serenity, in the close company of the trees, had a deep impact on me.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been in the woods of course, but it was probably the first time I’d realised the effect it had on me, and how, well myself, I felt. Like this was where I belonged.
I’ve had similar feelings since with certain people.
Being with my wife feels like home.
Being with certain social groups in the past – like the salsa club I belonged to and taught at for four years – was another example.
But in terms of physical surroundings, nowhere else is quite like the woods for me.
We were at the beach today, and whilst I’m happy to wander along the shore and marvel and the mighty ocean (preferably in a colder season with virtually no-one else around, if I’m being picky), I can take or leave the seaside experience.
I wouldn’t make a special trip alone to the sea just for the feelings it gave me.
But I would – and frequently do – make such pilgrimages to the woods.
The trees calm me, soothe me, ground me, replenish me.
The trees are my family.
The trees are my friends.
I’m not sure what I’d do without them, especially in the more chaotic and difficult times.
How about you? Where do physically feel most calm, most at home, most yourself?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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29 thoughts on “Finding Home – My Friends Are The Trees”
I can’t say that I am particularly enamored of being out in he woods. Too many insects in our part of the world. But our new home is in a older development with many mature oaks and the entrance road certainly feels very welcoming.
That said, where I feel most at rest is the winter beach, particularly the Atlantic coast from Cape May, New Jersey north to Portland, Maine. South of the Delaware Bay winter just doesn’t feel like winter, and north of Portland there is little development along the beach. It is the off season communities along the old (Atlantic) coast that keep calling me back.
Yes I think even in more built up areas, green space and trees are vital. So much feedback coming out of the pandemic and people’s lockdown experiences is how essential nature is, whether it’s their back garden or a local park or woodland or expanse of beach.
I was born and raised in the British Caribbean and loved the beach. I’ve lived in New Jersey almost 26 years. I’ve never once been in the water.
Is that because the water isn’t very appealing in New Jersey? (I have no idea!)
Floating fecal matter , garbage, etc. is less now.
It’s better than it used to be but you still can’t see your feet in the water.
Eugh. I had no idea! I can see why you wouldn’t want to go there. Do you ever go anywhere else in the US with cleaner water/beaches?
Yeah. BC-19 (Before COVID-19), we had late summer hoidays with family. We rented a large house on Virginia Beach, VA or the Outer Banks, NC. Good times, clean water.
AC-19 (After COVID-19) I think a holiday on Tybe Island in Coastal Georgia would be nice. I guess we’re making out way down the east coast to Key West. 😃
I’ve got ten acres of trees. They adjoin several thousand other acres of trees. I’ll take trees over people any day. 😀
Kindred spirits Marc! Ditto!
You got me jealous, Marc 🙂 Though I shouldn’t complain – I live in a half acre in a modern subdivision but our house ends on Army Corps of Engineers land, miles and miles of woods that will never be touched (as they are part of the beginning of Lake Allatoona, an important local lake). I can wander in there and be away from everything while still being close to the Atlanta metro area…
I come from a long line of German farmers… I wanted to stay away from that when growing up but now I appreciate these kinds of things a whole lot more.
I love trees. I hate seeing them alone caged in concrete.
I love when you see a tree in a street (and sometimes with one of those little fences/cages around them) and the roots of the tree are cracking the surrounding pathway, like the tree is saying “you cannot contain me!”
Trees communicate with each other. To plant them alone is like putting them in solitary confinement. The try their best to survive, but they can’t be happy.
I know what you mean.
I would say that sitting halfway up my grandmother’s farm hill when I was a kid, feeling the breeze and seeing the entire region plus the amazing clouds that rolled by, are that kind of memory that makes me feel at home. I think I have a deeper connection with the dirt itself, than I have with the trees or other kinds of vegetation. I like the ground, covered with vegetation, or tilled and ready to be planted on…
I like the dirt too, very grounded, pun intended! Now I have Emmylou Harris’s excellent Red Dirt Girl going round in my head.
We live on the coast, so it is the place we immerse ourselves in the most. I love getting out into our forests and outback places too. I don’t think it matters where you are, as long as you are connecting with the Natural World!
I think you’re right, any relatively unspoilt natural environment is wonderful food for the soul…
I moved from Central California to an isolated rural area in Oregon 17 years ago and while I have a love/hate relationship with the people here, it’s well worth the trade-off. We are in a high desert basin surrounded by lava beds, national forest, and we are in the middle of a bird migration route. To give you an idea of our isolation, a month ago I was late to work because there was a bear running down the street, he was obviously lost. Usually we don’t get bears in town in summer. Our wi-fi signal sucks, our power goes out in winter, we drive on icy roads and there’s not much shopping by U.S. standards. With google now I can keep in touch with what’s going on in the “real world” but I still, after 17 years am thrilled at the sight of a hawk, or a deer. None of that is possible without trees, they show me where water is, history of drought, what the surrounding wildlife is based on the tree type, how to weather life. The Hidden Life of Trees is a great book, I admit I listened to it and only remember a portion. But it amazed me to learn that trees talk to each other, and if there is a stump, it’s because the surrounding trees are sending roots out to it for water. Anyway lovely post
That sounds pretty rural Melissa! I have a well regarded book called The History Of The Countryside, which charts how the British countryside has evolved to where it is now, but I’ve never got far with it unfortunately.
that sounds really interesting do you know the history of your town? I have found local history more interesting than random history haha.
No actually I don’t know that much local history, at least not going back centuries. I work in a local authority and my role is heavily involved with planning history so I know quite a bit about how local towns have evolved in the last 40-50 years. But not any older than that really.
On a related note I have been looking my family history in more depth in the last few months, on my mother’s side.
At school I found history terrible dull, I mean who cares about kings and queens and wars from centuries ago? But if you can make the history more personal, I can see how it’s far more interesting to explore.
that’s very cool! my college hist prof said kids aren’t interested in history usually, i never found it interesting until i moved to a place that is relatively untouched you can still imagine it. I find British history way more interesting then U.S. . We are a young country by comparison. The NW U.S. is interesting b/c there is still land unchanged by development and it wasn’t settled until 1800’s. Also native american culture is intertwined. I like WW2 history only b/c of the psych factor. without the human factor, any old building is just an old building haha
I do love old buildings, and I think one’s feelings about history and many things changes as we get older.
As a kid, a trip to some castle or stately home and garden seemed terribly dull, but these days I’m a member of The National Trust over here and we visit their houses and gardens frequently.
I found myself at work a few months back reading about the history or Conservation Areas over here, how they came about, the oldest ones in the district, and the country, and so on. Again this would have seemed geeky and dull to my eight year old self.
I quite like learning about the history of certain things/topics actually too, like there’s a documentary on Netflix where we watched an episode about how junk food evolved, which was quite interesting, if pretty scary.
There’s an upcoming series about the evolution of video games which I’m looking forward too. I think this is partly nostalgia, I’ll enjoy seeing some of the old consoles and games from my childhood and youth, so again it’s linked to a personal history.
I found that my mum’s mum’s parents and their parents came from villages very close to where I live now, and much closer to where I actually grew up.
I was quite shocked, it’s like I’ve been somehow drawn back towards my roots, but I had no idea my ancestors on that side were so local to where I have now landed.
Old buildings do provide texture in photographs, I appreciate from architectural. Viewpoint. That’s a neat full circle you have discovered, brings to mind synchronicity. I think I saw that junk food history & it’s scary how much marketing drives our culture here. It’s been 20 yrs since I visited any European/GB , but back then – that goal of “consumerism ” was absent.
These days our culture is highly influenced by American culture in nearly all aspects. Which on the whole I don’t think is a good thing! I’m aghast sometimes that out 11 year old daughter always seems to call me da-deee all sing-songy like she’s from Georgia or somewhere, rather than Sussex! Far too much US TV influencing her!
hahhaha well since harry potter, our redheads are now called ginger and i actually heard an american on a podcast use shattered in the yorkshire vernacular.. i wonder if dialects are going to meld entirely by the time our kids are completely online immersed
Certainly over here our native culture has been evolving for decades as those form other cultures have made their home here. It’s very cosmopolitan!