When it comes to trees, my mother's Cherokee blood really goes to work inside me. I don't just like trees; I fall passionately in love with them.
When I hear sneering references to "tree huggers," I feel so sorry for the person. It is so pitiful to see a soulless humanoid. If you are open to it, hugging a tree transmits great energy to the core of your being. It comes all the way from the deepest roots to the center sap of the tree, and you can feel its strength become yours.
Mother developed emphysema at 55 from years of allergies and respiratory problems, and one of the few ways she got some relief was to walk among the trees and take in the oxygen. We had 27 apple trees, and she was always planting a new tree. I saw her go from difficult breathing to serenity many times by being among the trees.
I remember her fussing with the EPB people who would come every year or two to trim limbs around their electric lines. She loved "Oakie," a huge tree in our front yard and would tell them just how far they could go with their trim job. It was like her maternal instinct had flared up on her as some intruder threatened one of her children.
We all loved Oakie. Her lovely, strong limbs always provided us with a great swing, and we would swing out far enough to glimpse the entire apple orchard.
A large brook ran through our property, curling by Kings Point Baptist Church. After leaving our property, it went under the railroad and across Sterchi's pasture before emptying in South Chickamauga Creek. My sister and I had a tree we called our "problem tree" because every time we had a problem, we would head for it. One limb curled out across the brook and then leveled out, making a perfect seat where you could look down and see the babbling brook.
When problems come into our lives, the first order of business is to calm the mind, and this peaceful tree was the perfect place to calm and soothe a restless mind. My sister is a marvelous painter, and I asked her to paint the tree for me, and she did. Looking at it brings back waves of comfort.
When I lived on Benton Drive, there was a crippled crabapple tree right outside my birdwatching window. It appeared that someone had run over it at a formative time in its development. From the place it was damaged near the base, it ran low to the ground for about 10 feet, then shot straight up. I hung all my bird feeders on it, and it was always aswarm with birds.
One day Tiny Shoemake visited me and asked if she could have some of its apples. I thought they were too tart for human consumption, but she later brought me goodies she made from them, and they were delicious. Now I had two reasons to love that tree.
Laugh if you please, but I have regretted selling the house because I lost "Crabby." I wish I had rented it to a friend who would not mind me going by and visiting her now and then. I really miss her.
A tree can be such a good friend.
E-mail Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.