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Confessions of a Hopeless Tree Hugger
OK, alright already, yes, it’s true. I hug trees. Now I know a lot of people are referred to as tree huggers, but this moniker is not meant literally. It just means that the person cares about the environment, maybe eats granola, etc. I do like granola. And I do care about the environment. And I do love trees. Especially big trees, old trees, trees with character and history. Maybe that’s one reason I like Tolkien so much, for he loved trees too. Wouldn’t you love to curl up in the nook of a limb on Treebeard and take a nap, or listen to a tale of Fanghorn, or just ponder the quiet and deepness of the forest?
So sometimes when no one is looking I’ll wrap my arms around a tree to get a feel for how big and old it is. As far as I know a tree has no neurons or anything like them. But trees do have hormones, and they can communicate chemically from part to part and to each other. But with no neurons, and no brains, we cannot say, sadly that they have memories. But they just seem to don’t they?
Trees, especially old trees, seem to have unique personalities. They are different from each other, and they seem to each have a story to tell if they could but talk. So, if a man can “love” the earth which seems appropriate and not weird, and if a man can love the beasts, which seems appropriate and not weird, and if a man can love a mountain which seems appropriate and not weird, can a man not love a tree as well? And cannot a man love certain groves of trees, and kinds of trees, and specimens of trees, as he would love his field, or love his dog, or love his creek, or love his mountain? I think so. And so I confess, I love trees. I really love them. I love the soil. I love bugs. I love mountains. I love the beach. And I love trees.
I think C. S. Lewis would call this love “affection.” It is deep and abiding, and many people share this affection for trees, and the land, and the soil, and unspoiled places. When you cut down their favorite grove of trees or open up to development that beautiful field you are not just removing inanimate objects, you are removing something loved, and you are cutting into a person’s heart. The American “right” needs to get this and see this. Property rights are not the only value to uphold in this life.
I will keep hugging and loving trees, and as long as God gives me breath I will try to make the world of my children better by planting more of them than I destroy, directly or indirectly. I will keep trying to preserve for the enjoyment of my children and grandchildren special beautiful places so their lives can be rich and full of the bounty which (I believe) God has created and blessed us with.
And to that big gnarly white oak outside my window, all I can say is, “I love you big guy!”

Back Porch Art by Mark Ferencik 1998