My love affair with trees began long ago, in the mid-1940s when I was a toddler. Whenever it rained I could feel the trees in my back yard in Anniston, Alabama rejoicing. Across the reach of over sixty years, I cannot recall my infant logic, but I knew somehow that in order to rejoice fully with the trees, I would need to go skyclad. Off would come my clothes and I would run naked into the back yard to hug my trees, happy and soaking wet. My poor mother, dashing after me and also getting sopped, was unamused!
To me, trees have always been living beings. I wrote a poem to the cedars in Cherokee Park in 1968 in thanksgiving for their understanding when my first marriage fell apart. In the early 1980s, I created a story about a cedrus deodara and a young boy who grew up together on the West Coast. I wrote songs for the story and my brother put the lyrics to music. We recorded our creation, called “This Is the Day”, and gave it to our parents for Christmas in 1983.
Like Tolkien, who created the “Ents” for his Ring trilogy, I think that trees are magical creatures. And in our literature and lore, they are archetypal as well. The Bible talks of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Kabbalah’s central glyph is the Tree of Life, with its trunk of glory and its branches of intuition, strength, majesty, wisdom, mercy and power.
And Penny Kelly, author of the book, From the Soil to the Stomach: Understanding the Connection between the Earth and your Health ( Lawton, MI, Lily Hill Publishing, 2001) agrees. On page 57 of that fine book – all the quotes from Kelly in this piece are from pages 57 through 61 – Kelly says,
“Trees are master alchemists who transform the gifts of sun, wind and water into wood. Wood is a marvelous substance! We use it as fuel to keep us warm, for building boats, homes, garages, picnic tables, telephone poles, and everything else from rake handles to hairbrushes.
Too often we think of trees as useful only after they have been cut down. But the gifts from living trees are far more important and useful than those from dead trees.“
It is amazing just how useful one tree is. Viktor Schauberger figured out that by the time a tree is 100 years old it has:
processed the carbon dioxide in 18 million cubic meters of air and fixed it as 2500 kg of pure carbon, in the form of wood
drawn up and used 2500 tons of water through its roots, purifying and recycling the water through the top of the tree into the atmosphere
and supplied one person with enough oxygen for 20 years of good breathing
Kelly asks us, “Who will dispose of our excess carbon dioxide and supply us with oxygen when all the trees are gone?”
I have always taken it for granted that the air I breathe is substantially the same air that was breathed by my forefathers, but this is decidedly not so. As Kelly reports,
“Ice cores extracted from glaciers at the poles were analyzed to see what the make-up of our atmosphere was in the past. To the surprise of the scientists, the amount of available oxygen in the atmosphere had dropped by 50% compared to what it was a century ago when there were many more trees producing this critically important gas.
“The decline in oxygen has led to a steep increase in breathing difficulties. Even more tragic is the increase of infections, cancers and other problems, many of which miraculously heal when exposed to higher levels of oxygen.”
As I shared in the article on Penny Kelly and the soil which precedes this one, the soil is a living entity. And trees have a large part to play in producing good, living soil. In this long quote, Kelly explains the process by which this happens.
“Trees build layer upon layer of topsoil, year after year. During the growing season, they send roots deep into the subsoil, and even into the deep rock layer. A good gauge of how deep the roots of a tree go is to look at how high the tree grows. There is often as much or more mass below ground as there is above ground.
“Tree roots tunneling their way through subsoil and rock create a small mineral-mining operation. As with all plants, tree roots work their way deeply into the earth where they release mild acids from their root hairs. These acids dissolve tiny amounts of minerals from soil and rock and these minerals are then transported up the tree where they are used to build the trunk, the branches and thousands of thick, sturdy leaves. Each autumn, these leaves end up on the ground, creating a fresh deposit of organically mined minerals on the surface.
“This dead-leaf layer offers fresh roofing materials for an entire community of worms and ground-dwelling, six-legged Others who make their homes under anything that provides a sense of shelter. Yet in a quirk of Nature, the worms and insects end up eating the house! Worms consider leaves to be an extraordinary delicacy and will make their way through a leaf-pile with great relish, digesting the carbon-based green matter and leaving behind a trail of mineral-rich worm castings. Other insects, microorganisms, bacteria and fungi are born, breed and die among the fallen leaves, creating the dark, moist, living mass that builds slowly over time into a thick, luxurious, organic topsoil, known as humus. This mineral-rich humus becomes the perfect soil for plants, which then produce delicious, high-nutrition food for us.
“This same layer of loosely stacked humus also works as a layer of insulation over the surface of the earth, keeping the roots of trees cool and moist, which promotes healthy trees and a good water supply. When the surface of the earth is kept cool and porous, rainwater will easily penetrate and begin to sink into the soil. This is the beginning of the atmosphere-to-earth-to-atmosphere cycle that produces living water.
“As we cut trees by the thousands, the soil heats up and dries out, the atmosphere becomes dry and dusty, the water table drops and the timber turns to tinder. One stray match can turn whole regions into smoke and charcoal.”
Kelly goes on to say,
“Trees are a key player in the water cycle here on Earth and another good question is, ‘Who will make sure we have enough drinking water when the trees are gone and the water table sinks?’ The ocean is full of water, but it’s not drinkable.”
We will talk more about water in the next part of this series of article’s, but we mention the water cycle in connection with trees because trees are an integral part of the hydrological cycle – that cycle which sees water renewed and purified. Here are some home facts about the trees’ part in this cycle, as taken from Kelly’s report.
When water evaporates from the tops of trees, from the dew burning off and from groundwater which is taken up with the heating of the day, it is taken up by the winds and carried until the temperature aloft is cool enough to cause it to condense in the form of rain.
Ideally, the rain falls on forests which have lots of fallen leaves and humus to catch the water and help it sink deeply into the soil and subsoil. The trees have kept the ground cool, which helps the ground remain porous. Down sinks the water, losing its heat until, down deep in the earth, its temperature cools enough that the water pressure there equals the pressure of the atmosphere.
This causes the water to begin to heat up until some of it turns to steam. The steam combines with the carbon in the subsoil and rock and makes carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The hydrogen pushes upwards towards the soil’s surface, dissolving minerals in the rock and subsoil as it rises. These minerals enter the water as mineral salts. As the mineral-laden hydrogen rises, it develops a left-hand or centripetal spin which is magnetic. Oxygen is bonded to the centripetally spinning hydrogen to form what Kelly calls “mature, living water”. She says,
“As this living water continues to move up through the root zone of the trees, some of the mineral salts precipitate out and are deposited in the root regions to become nutrients for the trees and other vegetation. In this way, trees and plants are fed via a slow-growth, mineral-rich system that results in good health for the trees and superior-quality wood for building projects.”
Without the trees to cool the earth and make it porous, water does not go down into the earth. And there is no natural process which makes run-off water into living water. Run-off eventually rolls into the sea and becomes useless for human and animal consumption. Unfortunately, the giant corporations and governmental entities which are cutting away the rainforest in South America in order to grow cattle and feed and the construction companies who are destroying greenspace in order to build more housing and add to urban sprawl have not yet become sensitive to these facts.
There are organizations, such as www.treepeople.org of Los Angeles, www.wiserearth.org, www.plant-a-tree-today.org, the Arbor Day Foundation (www.arborday.org) and www.treesforlife.org, who strive to reforestate overcut and desertified areas here in the United States and globally. Lots of people are aware of how precious our trees are. You can become one of that number by contributing to these good causes. This is one problem of our time which has a solution: plant more trees!
On November 27, 1994, Q’uo mused,
“Your heavy, chemical, physical vehicle sheathes that which is light, created of love in such a way that you may walk about within the illusion that is your third density. You gaze about at your second-density friends—the trees, the birds, the grass—and you can see in these simple things clear and lucid examples of love. The trees offer to the seeker the oxygen which aids that seeker. The seeker itself is offering carbon dioxide to the trees, a food they need to eat. All within this second density tends toward the perfect order. Not that it is neat or tidy, but that it is in balance.”
I love thinking of that balance of nature and of us as a living part of a living system! When I breathe out, it is good to know that the trees in my yard are breathing in and saying, “Ah!” And when I breathe in, it is good to know that the trees around me are giving me the good oxygen I need to thrive.
In a way, we, humans are trees, trees of consciousness. Like trees with their deep root systems, the part of us that shows itself to the world as “self” is at least matched, if not exceeded, by the part of us that is hidden – our roots of hope, desire, intention, motivation and free will.
I open my arms and embrace your spirit. I hope that we of the forest of humanity can act together in love and awareness to save the tree-forests of Earth that are so very vital to our thriving. And I hope that we all may hug the trees close to us, thank them for their service and share in their joy when it rains.