Tree huggers of the world unite.
This is a short work (or play) book for cultivating an awareness and writing practice based on a series of contemplative exercises with trees. It’s for children, teens, and adults of all ages, says author Carol Day. “The trees and your availability to be present for and with them are the teachers,” she writes in her preface.
Carol Day is an artist and educator who says she has learned mostly from “the masters of creativity themselves: young children.” She calls this book a “meditative journey with ten of our planet’s species of trees.” The tree species offered are: sycamore, beech, cedar, poplar, magnolia, cherry, elm, horse chestnut, hornbeam and sequoia. You can do the exercises over a period of 100 days, working with each type of tree for ten days, or dip in and out, with a focus on one of more of your favorite types of trees.
Each chapter is organized in parts. In Roots, Carol Day gives a tree’s lore and information about its qualities. In Trunk, she gives a practice to work with your everyday senses with the tree. In Branches, she gives a type of journey. In Leaves, she gives a healing exercise to access with the tree. In Seeds, she offers ways to use the tree with your own creativity.
I flipped to the chapter on elms as I have a big, old elm tree in my backyard. I learned, among other things, that in Celtic mythology, elm trees were associated with the Underworld. Elms had a special affinity with the types of elves who serve as guardians of burial mounds. Elm wood was used to make coffins, perhaps because the wood is durable underground.
The point of this book is that trees are like letters because each one has a particular message for a particular person open to hearing it. As Carol Day puts it, the practice of listening to trees is a way to reconnect with the wisdom of nature that might otherwise pass us by.
~review by Sara R. Diamond
Author: Carol Day
2023, Moon Books
112 pp., $15.95