I was feeling all grateful about trees.
I was kicking through fallen leaves like a little girl, reveling in the fragrance and color of maples in autumn.
I was aiming my camera this way and that, trying to capture the glory caught in dark branches this season.
Couldn’t quite catch the brilliant red that thrills me every day.
I stopped in Hawthorne Park to admire a couple of trees that add a softness to the big redwoods and other evergreens in our neighborhood.
There’s something about delicate, autumn hues that is deeply satisfying too, especially set against the deep green that dominates here.
We’ve lived in urban places with few trees and rural places with no trees. We’ve lived among birch trees, aspens, redwoods, maples and more.
We’ve lived in places where want forced families to demolish every tree in sight, just to stay warm. In those places, trees = cooking fuel.
I’m selfish about trees. I prefer to live among them, to listen to their “chant of the seasons”, as Walt Whitman wrote in Song of the Redwood Tree.
I am content in this place, surrounded by huge sequoia, Douglas fir, and Oregon white oak. There are so many trees new to us here that we consult guidebooks and online sources to identify them.
I was feeling all grateful about recognizing Oregon white oaks. The ‘hood is full of them. We sidestep their giant acorns on quick walks. On slow walks, we stop to examine their acorns, so fat and big and hardy, compared to eastern oaks we have known.
(My family’s first farm had an oak so magnificent that when developers razed more than 100 acres of forest and fields for houses, they kept that one tree.)
I was feeling all grateful about these Oregon white oaks, because decades-old trees gave us much-needed shade all summer, and they’re now filling our community with a succession of changing colors.
I was admiring one of these oaks with my camera when a neighbor stopped to ask why I would bother.
“Those acorns hurt!” she said. “We were walking with our daughter and her dog, and one of those acorns dropped right on his head! It almost knocked him out — he’s just a little thing.”
A chihuahua, she added. Her indignation suggested trees had insulted her whole family.