A friend recently posted this article on Facebook. When I saw it in my newsfeed I took in a gasp. After reading it I exhaled. I almost cried too.
You see, as a very young child I used to hug a tree while waiting at a public bus stop to go to school in N.W., Washington, D.C.
I felt like I had a personal relationship with that tree.
The tree was my friend.
While writing this I decided to look on Google to see if my tree was still standing.
Well, the bus stop is there but I think my tree is gone. I was huge as a child. Probably an oak. The trees that are there today are too small.
As you can see my H8 bus stop is still there.
I went to Sacred Heart Academy on 16th and Park Road, but my grandmother lived on 4th and Upshur in N.W., D.C.
I had to stand at this bus stop in the early morning to get to school before 8:30 a.m. We had a penchant for not being late, so I was excessively early which meant I spent a lot of time waiting for the bus.
Then I started actually hugging the tree.
Then I would run to the bus stop and fall into an embrace with the tree.
I talked to the tree.
I confided into the tree.
I sent it good prayers to stay healthy and strong.
I was an only child at the time in a tumultuous environment.
My alone time was precious because my time with adults was strict, loud and violent.
My tree made me feel whole.
I felt hugged.
I felt loved.
I didn’t feel judged.
I felt solid.
I felt a part of something bigger than TV dinners, class work, the color of my skin and doing better than my elders.
I could breathe.
Come to find out, this was weird.
One day an elderly neighbor called my grandmother while I was hugging (cavorting in her eyes) with my tree. When I got home from school I got scolded and a received a beating for acting like a weirdo. How dare I bring shame to our family acting senseless out in public? What was I doing out there with that tree? Is that how decent people act? Is that normal? Don’t ever let her hear of me doing that again!
I really didn’t know what I had done wrong. But I learned that public displays of affection with nature should not be seen after that.
Did I stifle my love of nature? Maybe a little bit.
Did I deny what was inside me and my connection with it?
I spent a lot of my free time at my mom’s house alone running around in Rock Creek Park, making up tales of adventure, jumping from boulder to boulder in the creek with my dog Marmaduke (a red dobie mix). But I went off the trail, alone, so no one could see me.
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And I would hug trees.
In Spotsylvania County, Virginia where my grandmother had a country home, I’d wander into the woods and hug trees. I’d get covered in the sap from the pine trees down there but I didn’t care.
I felt grounded and rooted.
And in some ways I took joy in my forbidden pleasure.
I am a tree hugger.
I have been for a very long time.
I have secretly hugged trees my whole life (I feel like this is a true-life confession for a reality TV show!).
Come to find out there’s a connection we make with a deeper energy when we hug trees! Go figure!
I even have a tree at the Woldumar Nature Center that I love.
I hug it every time I take a hike there.
I am now out of the closet and can hug a tree and just be me!
You should try it.