Thursday, January 5, 2012

"The Secret Life Begins Early..."

When I was a child I had a favorite tree I would spend time with when I needed someone to talk to. I would trudge across the field in front of our house and into the woods beyond where a large and very old white pine stood waiting. If I pressed my ear against its rough bark and held it close, I could hear the wind whistling through it, telling me its secrets. Then, I would tell it a secret or two of my own.

Shortly after I moved here, two summers ago, I felt drawn to one particular Norway among many in the back yard. It seemed to be beckoning to me, and so I walked over to it, held it close, and told it how happy I was to be here. That winter, nine deer came regularly to browse beneath it. Quite often three or four would stay to bed down as night fell, then leave at first light.

These trees that surround my house make me feel loved and protected. I am honored to live among them, to be in their presence.  They still tell me secrets. Sometimes, I tell them mine.

When you write late at night
it's like a small fire
in a clearing, it's what
radiates and what can hurt
if you get too close to it.
It's why your silence is a kind of truth.
Even when you speak to your best friend,
the one who'll never betray you,
you always leave out one thing;
a secret life is that important.

~ Stephen Dunn, from, "A Secret Life"

The photographs are mine.


  1. Very, very nice! I love trees as much as you do I think but there haven't been any really significant trees here at our new place that have spoken to me like yours did. There is a cluster of 3 redwood trees, growing in a triangle that I dearly love. I had a bench on the inside of that cluster for awhile, until I saw a skunk wandering out of the center one evening. That prompted me to move the bench the next afternoon. All trees are so wonderful. We are lucky to have them.

  2. Lovely post. My grandmother planted a bradford pear tree with me in my back year when I was 6 before she died. It was very special to me. In the spring, when the white petals were falling like snow, I could stand under it and feel her with me as I was surrounded with the little white flakes. We had an ice storm winter before last and it proved too much for the tree, and it broke under the weight of the ice. It may seem corny, but the day it was chopped up and hauled away was one of the saddest days of my life. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. I wonder, sometimes, how many folks have put their arms around a tree and listened to what it has to say. There are some of us who must carry a druid past inside.
    We need to find others who understand unless we be thought strange and different.
    This post says a lot of things about who you are. I love to read what you write. Sometimes I completely understand where you're coming from and sometimes not.
    As the quote says...
    "...silence is a kind of truth...
    you always leave out one thing;
    a secret life is that important."

    I believe we survive because of the secret life inside of us. We
    don't have to share everything. Some things are no one's business.
    Secrets are not a sin... they are, if carried properly, a way to survive.

  4. Teri, Might that skunk be hibernating now? Those three redwoods sounds lovely.

    Brian, I love your image of standing under the tree with white petals falling like snow. Beautiful. I do understand your feelings about that pear tree. I had part of a tree fall over last winter in the snow and it grieved me to haul those big branches away. Much remained of it though, and I do like the brush pile, as I'm hoping fawns will be born there in the spring. Perhaps your pear tree provided warmth for someone. Thanks so much for commenting (and for retweeting!).

    farmlady, It is our secrets that we carry that inform and shape our lives, allowing us to tell our stories, but saving the secrets for ourselves, and perhaps a tree or two. :) Thanks so much for your very thoughtful comments.

  5. What a beautiful blue sky that nourishes that tree. And the incredible last picture... this post is filled with mysteries and blessings. I am blessed by reading it.

  6. Yes, I've written about my trees too. Love 'em. And I do hug them and listen. I grew up in a grove of pine trees... the smells and sunlight filtering through ;)

    good stuff

  7. We have often planted a tree to commemorate an event, like the birth of our granddaughter, our anniversary here on the Cutoff the first year we were here, special birthdays, memorials to loved ones.

    One year, when the girls were very young, they gave their daddy an Austrian pine. Each year, a picture was taken in front of the pine. First, they were taller, then the tree, but, of course, that didn't last long. At one point, the tree was in the way for a garage we were building and it had to go. Tom actually spent a very hefty sum of money to have the tree moved to another part of the yard. The tree survived, amazingly, and still stands tall, though we have moved.

    We are tree lovers, through and through, and, yes, I've hugged a few.

    Thanks, Teresa, for your post awakened some fond memories.

  8. DJAN, The sky has been so blue for the past two days. It always makes me happy. I never tire of seeing the crowns of trees against that sky. Thank you. Mysteries and blessings. I like that.

    CAROLYN, There's something about the way the sunlight filters through.... It gives me a peaceful feeling. I feel an Eagle's song coming on.

    PENNY, Trees do bring good memories. That sounds like a really fine tradition - tree planting. Remember Arbor Day? I recall doing a reading of some sort outdoors, and in front of the whole elementary school one such day. I must have been in 5th or 6th grade. Thank you for awakening some fond memories of my own.

  9. those blue skies, I can hear Willie singing

  10. I don't think I ever met a tree I didn't love and wouldn't tell a secret to. Thankfully we are surrounded by trees here and I can commune with them, lovely post. Life is good with a little mystery in it.
    For me it's always been the mighty oaks till Gary and I got married and then we had the most wonderful madrone tree in our yard. Now I'm not so particular, about any tree is a beauty to me, short, tall, round, small, I love them all for one reason or another.

  11. Hello Teresa, thank you for this great post. Yes, we could not live without trees. My morning walk would be nothing without trees. Each time I'll take a break on the hill with the four shady limes and with a view across the sea, and I touch one of them to feel the connection to nature itself.
    I could not live in a place without trees. Oak, birch, beech, fir, rowan, lime, elm , maple - all of them. If the old oaks could talk! Like some of the others I've got a memory about my mother's tree. A chestnut was plant in grandma's garden when my mother was born. This tree means a lot to me.
    So many thoughts jump up about trees. We live in a world where we have to fight to keep the rainforests. They are vital to all of us.
    A beautiful poem. ´)

  12. I have often said that if I could have a "super power", it would be to create trees at will. Everywhere I go, I find myself wishing trees into existence where there are open spaces begging to be filled. Like you, I draw strength and peace from the presence of trees.

  13. Steve, ah, yes. Nothing but blue skies do I see....

    Linda, I'm not familiar with the madrone. I'll look it up. They're easy to love, when people open their eyes.

    Grethe, You've posted some wonderful photos of trees on your walks. "A view across the sea" sounds wonderful. I miss the ocean. A tree in tribute to your mother's birth sounds wonderful. I wish everyone would understand how it is all connected.

    Janice, I love your super power, and to wish trees into being is soooo cool. What a great idea. Yes, "strength and peace."

  14. (tongue in cheek) Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree. How very true! I talk AND hug my tress all the time. Thanks T

  15. You're very welcome, Michael.

    Anon., Thank You. :)

  16. Trees are our friends...I loved the story of Johnny Appleseed as a child.

  17. There is nothing as soothing as nature. I have a tree in my back yard that is beautifully shaped, and the deer and the turkeys stop by to feed under it's branches. I have been known to pull a chair underneath it as well, and just enjoy the scenery.

  18. Paul, It was a mainstay of childhood, with a great message.

    MIO, The deer and turkeys are such a treat to see. I love their coppery wings.

  19. We have had up to 17 turkeys at a time. What a joy to watch

  20. Dear Teresa,
    As DJan said, all of us are blessed by reading your posting today. I listened to L. Cohen sing but couldn't watch the visuals as they are the type that affect my Meniere's.

    I have missed your blog in the past three weeks. I've been under the weather and only today am I returning to the blogging world. I'm reading the latest posting of each blog I follow. If you have one or more postings you'd like me to read from the past three weeks, please let me know and I'll do that.

    You are my cultural attache to the world beyond this home in which I live and breathe and have my being.

    Peace as ever and always.

  21. Dee, I'm so happy to hear from you and to know you're feeling better. Don't worry about previous posts, we'll just move forward from here.

    A cultural attache - I have never been referred to as that - I think I like it. :)

    Peace to you dear friend.

  22. Beautiful. Keep the silent fire going. I've got secrets to burn ;)

  23. My, my. Let those late night fires burn....

  24. Pretty interesting theme and photos, Teresa. We all need some secrets to keep our individuality. Just hope that they're relatively harmless!

  25. The Branches Look To Be Reclaiming The Light........

  26. OOh, that's nice. I like that. Thank you for that thought.

  27. When I was a kid, I stayed under a big oak tree on the mountain ridge above the house. Never felt so safe or so loved. Trees are the dogs of the plant kingdom.

  28. Cletis, It's really amazing, how trees can make us feel so safe and loved, isn't it.

  29. Lovely photos.
    I planted a cottonwood sapling with my dad (on my stories blog) when I was five that has always been special to me. It's 55 years old now and we all moved away, but my sister sent me pictures last year.
    Despite that cottonwood I nurtured, my favorite tree was an old rough oak tree in the field. That's the tree I climbed to be alone from spring to fall. That's the tree that heard my secrets, absorbed my tears, and supported my bouncing joy.

    You got me wandering off on youtube to listen to Leonard Cohen again--LOL! ;)

  30. Rita, You are such a good writer, right there in that phrase that starts, "That's the tree..."

    Our trees keep our secrets, too.

    It's easy to get lost in Leonard. ;)