Just talk about trees

Birch and pine took the hardest hits from the ice storm of ’14. The frail, sensitive poet and the burly shop teacher in need of a shave hardly spoke before the storm and now they lay side by side on the ground and tumble together in the chipper.

Disaster, the great unifier.

Ice fell evenly from the sky, but some lost a disproportionate share of trees. Others were mysteriously spared, or at least it looks that way to someone just passing through. For every lawn covered in massive branches and entire trunks, there’s one to the side littered only with tidy snow patches. But if you look around, you might notice the white meat of snapped limbs or stumps where great trees once stood.

Some people just tend to their messes quicker.

The trees that huddled together in groves weathered the ice storm the best. It’s possible the ones in the center thought it was only rain and never felt the ice thicken and weigh down and snap.

It’s no guarantee, but there’s safety in numbers.

Of two trees that stand alone in our front yard, the japanese maple came out unscathed while the silver maple shed branches we will still be picking up next spring. Maybe some trees were healthier in ways we couldn’t see or they were pruned carefully over the years or sat closer to a stream during drought.

Resilience and strength aren’t visible from the outside.

The aftermath from the ice storm looks like Nature’s spring clean. She culled and cleared one day when she was in a terrible mood and then said “here, clean this up. I’m going to take a nap.” I guess it was better than forest fire or flood.

Even if it’s a plan I don’t understand, new opportunities come from loss.

It doesn’t do any good to guess why this tree and not that one or second-guess what we should have been doing all along to prepare. What’s done is done and now its time to walk around the yard and pick up branches and then turn around and notice a dozen more we missed.

Eventually we’ll amass a great pile and the sloppy, mossy ground will support new growth and we’ll all treat our trees with more reverence for at least a full cycle of seasons.


Note: Later this week, in time to welcome Spring, look for a guest post by Whistler, who celebrates 1.5 years sober. 

49 thoughts on “Just talk about trees

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  1. Such a great thoughtful post…I’ve often wondered the same. Our recent ice storm was just as devastating… Yet beautiful at the same time. Nature’s way….:-)


      1. I like that!! I do write about trees a lot don’t I?!!! Thank you…and thanks for all your great posts. You’re a wonderful part of this online fellowship!


  2. Just talk about trees? No… This was so much more than meets the eye. Kind of like trees. So maybe it is just talk about trees afterall.

    Beautiful, as always.


  3. I love how a lot of what you said not only applies to the trees but people and life as well. Like one big metaphor.


  4. I am always fond of trees, they help me reflect, they provide compassion just by their mere existence. Your post reminded me of some of the lessons I have absorbed by watching my backyard aimlessly and returning with a smile.
    Congratulations on being freshly pressed.


  5. It’s been a rough winter on our trees and nature. It was an interesting thing to witness as this blog was a very interesting read!


  6. Lovely, layered piece. Nature is where I learn my lessons too, marking recovery (or the lack of – my husband’s) and loss through the seasons. I admire this piece and love your writing. Look forward to following you along on your journey.


  7. I tend to forget about how beautiful trees are, but once in a while I’ll look at one, and it’ll remind me what an amazing artist God is. And how He loves and delights in each and every living thing. Good post.


  8. What a deep, poetic post! There are so many lessons to learn from nature, and you captured that beautifully here. xo


  9. Okay – now this was just super awesome. and I kept thinking of life with all your points (I am sure you were going there with them too – or letting it lie where it may….) but gosh! so tasty!

    and I think I could use this post to teach a weekend seminar on….


    ~Some people just tend to their messes quicker.
    indeed! – and literally in our neighborhood some tackle the debris and down trees faster than others. and then in life – like in social area or in relationships or in learning how to cope and adjust to things – well too often folks don’t understand that “messes” are a healthy part of life – and instead of embracing them and cleaning up – some hide the mess, ignore, mask it, bury it in bad way, etc.

    ~It’s no guarantee, but there’s safety in numbers.

    whew, well amen to this! and I like the part about no guarantee – so true, so true – but a three fold cord is not quickly like broken (whereas a single thread can be).

    ~Resilience and strength aren’t visible from the outside.

    this is so true with trees – and obviously with people – and it is front he inside how we pull deep – or how grit is developed and only comes from trial – and there is more to us than the “cover” shows. Yet sometimes – with people – and even with trees – well we can see red flags or signs of decay and weakness from the outside – and those signs need to be tended to. Like my peach tree has a bad fungus section and I cannot let it go and ignore it – cause this external sign is a warning to get it the help it needs…. and so sometimes the outside reveals that weakness….

    ~Even if it’s a plan I don’t understand, new opportunities come from loss.

    now this one really struck me because sometimes it (loss) is the ONLY way for the new opportunities to come. whew, such a good point – whether it is the good coming from more sunlight in the canopy of the forest or the good that comes in our own yard from the new trees being planted that will be there for grandkids – and in our own lives as we assess “what” did not turn out as we had hoped…. well may we understand that storms come and go – and that so much good “can” come from setback….
    and I like how you use the word “plan” because without throwing religion onto any one – well I believe that God does have a plan (Romans 8:28) for every single detail – and a plan for the timing of when “light bulbs” come on – or when we get the right boot in the head that finally wakes us up. lol

    ~What’s done is done….

    and now this is just a wonderful note to wrap up your post on. It succinctly reminds us to move into being solution focused and to be forward moving. 🙂 But you also remind us of the fruits of such mess “support new growth” and then show how it changes our perspective….
    “we’ll all treat our trees with more reverence….”

    Okay, thanks for letting me reflect on this – I enjoyed this post very much BBB!!!

    Have a nice weekend,



    1. I want to attend one of your seminars!

      I wanted to touch on what you said about cleaning messes. Tending to damage quickly sounds good on the surface. Sweeping it away, fixing it. Except when quick fixes aren’t an option, and then it says more about our inability to sit with the mess. I didn’t convey this in what I wrote, and I’m really glad you touched on it. Your comment made my day!


      1. well I am so glad my comment led to a tiny follow up 🙂

        the inability to sit with the mess….. especially when quick fixes are not an option – hmmmmm
        now that is something to chew on for a bit…..

        have a great weekend – and I love your writing. ~y.


  10. BB firstly congratulations on being Pressed you really have a great ability to tell it how it is and get to the authenticity factor. Your topic choice is great but when I read ‘Resilience and strength aren’t visible from the outside’ something inside me just went Wow!
    This is so true of so many. People who suffer in silence, those heroes taking chances, parents burying raw panic over a child’s well-being so as not to alarm them. Resilience is recovery and sustenance but it is more than that as well. It is having inner-strength to understand that simply doing good is helpful to society. No rewards, no recognition, just the courage to say or do something that may never be reciprocated. It’s ‘Planting a shade tree under which you will never sit’ and helping a world by helping oneself.
    My congratulations to you BB and your own courage and strength -and planting-is an inspiration.B


  11. So interesting reading your account of nature and trees in a cold climate. Written with feeling. Here in Sydney, today, grey and blue bruised clouds drove rain onto native and exotic trees resulting in scattered leaves and branches everywhere. Similar, but so different”


  12. I love the way you write! “The frail, sensitive poet and the burly shop teacher in need of a shave hardly spoke before the storm and now they lay side by side on the ground and tumble together in the chipper.”
    I could read this sentence over and over again. I look forward to reading more.


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