Sunday, February 04, 2018

Vitamin T & the New Year of the Trees

                          Ruth in Beaver Meadow Conservation Area PEC

"And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight,
and good for food;
the tree of life also in the midst of the garden,
and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”  Genesis 2:9

"a culture is no better than its woods" WH Auden

Yesterday we drove to Prince Edward County with the goal of a ramble in a Quinte Conservation Area called Beaver Meadow. It is rather inconspicuous as the area's conservation areas go, and it was only after Ruth went on her own one day that we discovered the trails extend farther than we first realized. We left Belleville in sunshine but as we ventured farther south we found ourselves in fairly heavy lake effect snow.

The road into the conservation area is closed to vehicles in the winter so we walked in and had the place to ourselves. To say that we entered into the silence would be incorrect. There was some birdsong and we passed streams still valiantly running despite the cold. And because there was a breeze the trees creaked and groaned in a way they don't in the summer when they're covered in leaves.

We loved the tree therapy in this little gem of a deciduous woods. We were enchanted as we ambled along as the snow fell and I would go so far as to say that it was a spiritual experience. And really trees are both therapeutic and spiritual. Recently the Globe and Mail published an article entitled Vitamin T which describes books about the benefits of trees. Here is the link: The Japanese notion of forest bathing intrigues me, and we participated in an event recently offered by the Cataraqui Conservation Authority which was surprisingly meaningful.

I'm not done! Earlier this week some Jews celebrated Tu Bshvat, the New Year of the Trees. It is a tradition thousands of years old which is associated with care for fruit-bearing trees but it has become a time to plant trees in those places where this makes practical sense and some communities celebrate a special Tu Bshvat seder or festive meal. A 16th century Tu Bshvat seder prayers ends with  "May all the sparks scattered by our hands, or by the hands of our ancestors, or by the sin of the first human against the fruit of the tree, be returned and included in the majestic might of the Tree of Life."

Whaddya think? Does this all sound what we used to call "new agey?" Or does it appeal to you and make sense in your experience? Can something old become new again in its adaptation for our time?


Judy said...

Thank you for this one, David. Maybe this is why Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray? Surrounded by trees. I received a Christmas gift , a pewter pendant, with the Tree of Life engraved on it - now it has new meaning to me, and I may just use it as my personal touchstone, like prayer bead, when I need to let go of the sparks...and, of curse, I shall continue to walk under the trees regularly.

David Mundy said...

Sorry for taking so long to respond Judy. This sounds like a lovely gift and a fine notion for a prayer talisman. Keep communing with the trees!

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