Arbor Day is set aside to celebrate the beauty of trees and to celebrate caring for them. It is one of my favorite choices for a holiday. It is celebrated on the first Friday in November, in our state.
As you might have guessed from the witch name, I have a special love for trees and their particular brand of magick. Before I even thought about being a witch, I was constantly in the neighborhood trees. The tree in our front yard was more than I could handle, in my youth, as the limbs were out of reach for me… (I am 5’4 1/2″ full grown so you can imagine how not tall I was as a child.) fortunately our neighbors, a few houses up the street, had trees that were better suited to my lack of stature. The tall shrubs between our yard one of the next-door neighbor houses were a constant source of excitement for me, as well. To me, shrubs are just vertically challenged trees and close to my heart, as well.
Some of my fondest memories are of playing among them, with green army men, Lincoln Logs, and my youngest, elder brother. We would use the trees as “jumping stations” for the army men and when our dad had sand dumped in our yard one year, to help the soil, we would dig way down around the roots of the bushes, and under them to form caverns for the army jeeps and trucks to drive through. I did not realize at the time we were actually helping to add to the health of the trees by removing the hard packed earth and replacing the Texas black gumbo with a healthy mix of the soil and sand, which allowed them to thrive. This potentially helped save my life many years later when a driver lost control on our street and hit them instead of my bedroom window, which was protected only by these healthy, vibrant bushes.
As such I have been a treehugger my entire life. Especially when I was on my own the first time and things would get too rough or life seemed to be hitting too hard. I would drive to a small side street in Fort Worth, which wound around under an overpass and led to the banks of tributary maybe 30′ wide, of the Trinity River. On my side of the river were several small parking areas where a car or two could pull off and park under tall beautiful trees, mostly Pecan trees, of course, since they are our state tree. The parking areas were usually about a block apart, and faced the river so you could see the golf course on the other side of the river. Squirrels would stay in the trees and if you became a regular, as I did, you could lure them right to you. I usually took a blanket and propped my back against the trees and I would just talk to the trees listening to their leaves rusting in the breeze. I never left without feeling better than when I arrived, often with answers to my problems I never expected. It was always a healing place and time for me, from the early 1980’s until the early 1990’s.
During our coven’s early period, several coven members went with Azrael and me when we found a home where an enormous tree had been cut down. There were large sections of stumps and huge branches left beside the driveway. We asked permission and removed several of them. We were able to remove enough to build a sitting area beside our fire pit which sat just outside the coven circle in our front yard. Az also used four long pieces about 3 1/2′ tall and as big around as a man’s thigh as the markers for the quarters. It made a lovely altar setting. Our front gathering and circle area is the only thing I ever missed after we moved from the tiny, two-bedroom place two days before the arrival of our twins.
The home our family shares now, was chosen in large part due to the abundance of trees in the small backyard. They are a tall, thin, elegant family of their own. They generously provide us with oxygen, shade and beauty. They provide the local squirrels with a surfeit of nuts, since they are a variety of oak trees that produce an amazing amount of nuts each year. Multiple varieties of birds nest and enjoy their protection from spring through fall. These birds feast on the widely differing assortment of insects that make their homes among the branches and leaves , as well.
As I sit here typing this post, I can hear the inhabitants of the trees singing in the early morning light, greeting the new day with a very vocal appreciation. Every time I sit under these trees, as they tower over my head, I feel peaceful and content. They have shared my quiet times, they have shared my sad times. They have shared joyous times with myself, my family and our friends, morning, new and night as we sat beneath them quietly or raucously enjoying each others company. They are a part of our family, who share in our lives, every bit as alive and part of our lives as ourselves and our beloved pets.
A great way to enjoy the day which celebrates the dignity, elegance and giving nature of these beauties, after and/or before planting more trees in wilderness areas, or at home, is to decorate the trees currently in your life. You can decorate them with ribbons and bows. Make festive paper birds and butterflies to color in with Crayons or watercolors and hang from the branches on brightly colored yarn. You may even make natural bird feeders to hang in the branches, luring in birds to enjoy their abundance and gift the trees with fertilizer before they leave. Decorate around the base of the trunk with seasonal flowers and fruit, which is born of the same types of trees, or from other varieties of trees, their cousins. Gently hang stringed lights or lanterns in the trees for evening celebrations. Use your imagination and have fun giving these amazing, life-sustaining trees the appreciation they are due!
Refreshments for the celebration could include juices made from the bounty that trees offer as well as fresh fruits from trees. Brown and green garb would celebrate the holiday in a complimentary style, of course.
Music could be recordings of the songs of birds or a windy day with the sounds of trees moving and leaves singing with the breeze. You may also choose music of woodwind instruments, drums, or stringed instruments made of wood to symbolize and celebrate the ultimate sacrifice that trees make for enhancing our lives in so many important ways. To show gratitude for trees giving life and, literally, limbs to sustain humans in so many different ways with their beauty. Make your celebration a celebration that suits your love in the manner that best suits you.