Trees are the stars of the holiday season
At this time of year, trees are the stars of the show. As we walk through our neighbourhoods, each household has a unique way of expressing their relationship with the holiday season. From a dazzling light show to a single wreath. Both the branches of the Christmas tree and the Menorah stem from connection.
This season we are seeking new ways to connect, to locate our togetherness from afar. At the Lodge we regularly look towards nature for teachings, for reflections, for understanding. Luckily, the vast forests that surround us hold a lifetime of wisdom.
Diversity and interconnectedness
Looking across Upper Campbell Lake at the forests of Strathcona Park it is hard to pick out the smaller details, the diversity, the intricate patterns concealed by the sea of green. However, when we lace up our hiking boots and venture into the woods, we notice the subtleties, we start to pick up on what makes each grove, each species, and each individual tree unique; the scents, the colours, the textures. This landscape is the backdrop to an extensive interconnected community.
Trees are social
Suzanne Simard, a professor of Ecology at the University of British Columbia studies how trees communicate with each other. In the book, The Hidden Life of Trees she describes trees as the foundation of the forest, that like us, trees are social beings. However, unlike humans, trees remain stationary throughout their lifespan. Since they are unable to walk across the forest floor to visit a companion they became creative and looked below ground for a solution.
Roots – pathways of communication and support
Roots are capable of so much more than just keeping a tree from falling over. Simard illustrates that these underground systems are complex networks that provide pathways for communication, support, and healing. They are the memory banks, linking past, present, and future generations. They are the counsellors, sending messages of compassion. And, they are the healers, redirecting nutrients to those who need it most. It is said that this exchange of communication increases the overall resilience of the forest.
Reciprocity, resilience and nourishing connections
Forests show us how to hold steady in community, that it is the reciprocity that keeps this ecosystem whole.They remind us that connection can thrive separately from proximity, that our roots bring us together and keep us steady in times of uncertainty.
In this season, though you may be apart from loved ones, allow your roots to stretch. May you find that these connections nourish your spirit.
Sophie O’Brien, Program Manager
Wohlleben, P. (2015).The Hidden Life of Trees: what they feel, and how they communicate. Greystone Books Ltd.
Louv, R. (2012). The Nature Principles: Reconnecting with life in a virtual age. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
Simard, S. (2016, June). Suzanne Simard: How trees talk to each other (Video File).