Friday, December 28, 2012

Tree Hugger


I've lived in Monterey, California, for two years now. I have just a couple weeks left before we move, and I've been sad about it ever since we arrived. I love it here. And one of the things I love are the trees. The whimsical, striking, unbelievable, how-did-this-happen, how-is-this-even-standing, full of personality trees.



I wrote in a previous post that sometime I would devote a post solely to my favorite trees. This is it.


 So of course I have to start with the most widely recognized tree along the Central Coast - 
the Monterey Cypress on Pebble Beach's gorgeous 17-Mile Drive. 


But there are a lot more than this that have won my heart. I won't even begin to attempt to name 
them all - but we've named some of our favorites:


The Circle
(How did this happen?! This was the first tree we named here. It caught my attention and got me noticing how much personality surrounds us in nature here on the Peninsula.)



The Bench 
(This is unbelievable to me - two trees next to each other somehow grew to make this little bench between the two of them. I pass by it every day and it makes me smile every time.)



The Camouflage Tree
(Kind of funny that this is in a military housing neighborhood.)



Lean on Me
(It's hard to tell if these two trees are supporting each other, or trying to push the other over. Kind of like the boys in my house some days. Anyway, if you could see both trees in full, it looks like they're rubbing elbows. Cute.)



The Serpent
(It's hard to see, but this is a very horizontal tree, as opposed to vertical. It goes back into the ground before coming up again. This is my view from the gym so I get to think about it a lot. For exactly 30 minutes at a time.)



Pippi Longstocking
(I don't know why, but the branches remind me of funny side pony tails sticking out.)



The Flex
(Doesn't it look like it's flexing?)



The Hug
(The white tree on the right is wrapping it's arms around the tall dark trunk next to it. 
I think it's so sweet!)



Ghosts on the Ridge
(Some days the fog veils the trees and it's as if they're almost not there. Personally, I love it when this happens. Just not for days on end.)



Silent Giants
(This is the view through my son's window screen at bedtime. It's like the silhouettes are all lined up to watch over him through the night.)



Tree Parade
(Speaking of trees all lined up, this one makes more sense in context of the flat fields of crops and no other trees on the horizon for miles. This lineup is a landmark on our way north. Love the cheery red barn!)



The Family Tree
(It's hard to see just how wide the base is, I had to stand so far back to fit most of it in the frame. Ever since we got here, I've thought this would be a great tree for a family picture, because there's so much horizontal space in it to spread out.)




The Halo
It inspires me every time I see it, but it only appears in late fall and during the winter.)




Mini Christmas Trees
(My son and I discovered these near our house and just thought they were adorable!)



The Lone Palm
(There are a few palm trees here and there that remind me this is California.)



Grow Where You're Planted
(Even if it's right in the middle of the street, I guess.)


Whimsy on a Stick
(This picture doesn't do it justice - it's a 360' wonder if I've ever seen one!)



Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary
(On cool, wet days they look like dead leaves. On warmer, sunny days, this grove comes alive!)


Stripped Eucalyptus 
(This is like a work of art to me. And Eucalyptus and pine mixed with the salty ocean air are one of my favorite scents here. Have I mentioned that I'm going to miss it?)




What I've learned from trees:
Many of the trees here are so asymmetrical I've had to wonder how they are even still standing. I've come to two possible conclusions. One is that maybe the roots are strong enough to hold it upright. The other is that maybe the balance is actually in the asymmetry itself. Either way, there is a reason each one has grown into the shape and structure we now see. It's character has been shaped not only by the genetics in it's original seed, but by everything in it's life - the wind, the rain or lack thereof, the sun and shade, the terrain, and especially the other trees around it. Somehow their unashamed declaration of their character gives me a sense of confidence, that we can all be exactly who we are as well. We can be resilient!

I love this quote from Marlin K. Jensen's address, http://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/print/ces-devotionals/2012/01/stand-in-the-sacred-grove?lang=eng. The entire article is a great read filled with insightful analogies.


There are trees in the Sacred Grove that Brother Parrott calls “character trees.” These are trees that demonstrate that opposition can work to our benefit and that in our extremity there is often much to be gained. These trees have had to react and adapt to and sometimes recover from various forms of opposition or adversity—a lightning strike, a powerful gust of wind, a heavy accumulation of snow or ice, the encroachment and abuse of careless humans, and even sometimes the aggression of a neighboring tree! Out of these adverse circumstances have come some of the sturdiest and most visually interesting trees in the grove. What they may lack in symmetrical beauty, they more than make up for in resoluteness and in character.


One other reason I might like trees so much? I love what they can become.