Kris August

Celebrating the Interconnectedness of Life

October 2023

For the Love of Trees

On a visit to the Peace Pagoda in Leverett Massachusetts, I found this tree dedicated by Jake Swamp (Tree of Peace Society) in 1985. Among many contributions to peace and conservation, Jake Swamp is the author of Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World.

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For the Love of Trees

The Autumn season draws our attention to the trees, particularly deciduous trees going through such beautiful color changes and losing their leaves. The changing winds bring out the music of the trees with the rustling of the leaves hanging onto their branches, falling to the ground, and dancing around at our feet.
We humans can build attachments to special trees in our lives, those that grow up with us and die in our lifetimes, and those that may live on for hundreds of years longer if given the chance.
There are many stories of grief over the loss of a single special tree. Recently in the UK, a beloved tree, the
Sycamore Gap tree in Northumberland, was cut down by someone who certainly did not feel a connection to the trees. The public outrage that followed created a reminder that though we may build an attachment to one specific tree, billions of trees are estimated to be cut down every year with the primary cause being deforestation.
This destruction, of course, has a lasting impact on the global climate and the overall health of the earth and her inhabitants. Beyond the emotional and often spiritual connections humans feel for the trees, we share our breaths with the trees. They take in the carbon dioxide that we breathe out and produce oxygen that we breathe in. It is a natural exchange that has evolved together since life began on Earth.
Building connections with other life forms, nature, and the natural cycles brings out our humanity. It can create rich relationships on its own and remind us of connections with people in our lives.
This is your reminder to breathe with the trees!

Grief, Loss, and Trees

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The following story is from a few years ago and continues to express the love, grief, and attachment we can feel with trees as strongly as with any other living beings. This story and the one above - For the Love of Trees - has been on my mind this season as we move into fall.

Recently I stopped by a dear client’s home to deliver herbal medicine for her cat and happened to arrive in the middle of an incredibly sad event. Her beloved Moraine locust tree that had been planted by her father about 60 years ago was being removed. The beautiful shade tree had reached the end of its life and, due to internal decay, had become a potential hazard.
As a veterinarian who provides palliative care and home euthanasia services, there was a distinct familiarity with this moment. The machinery required was much bigger and more overwhelming than mine, but at the same time, I had stepped into a very somber moment of a treasured life passing
. There were photos displayed of the tree as it had grown through the years and stood sentry by their home, witnessing her family’s entire history.

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The photo above showing the sapling in the background with her father holding a young version of herself and her sister standing alongside was so incredibly touching. There were tears and hugs and she knew right away that I understood the added depth of her grief. The cat that I care for belonged to her deceased parents and she is now the guardian of their cat and their home. Two years earlier, she had been there for me with words and tears for my grief as my father was dying. It was clear that this moment, cutting down and taking away this tree, was about so much more. Later she told me that it had felt like losing her Mom and Dad all over again.
Events like this can bring up so many emotions, and often we don’t recognize all of the connections. I was glad to have been there to share in this moment and catch her stories of the loss of such a special living being. What a beautiful way to celebrate the many intertwined lives with photos and the intentional honoring of memories.

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