Tag Archives: American Beech trees

Post Election: Leaf Pile


Leaf Pile in Driveway, Fall, 2016

Leaf Pile in Driveway,
Fall, 2016

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I opened my shade to a vibrant, sun-lit sky. The bedroom window faces a row of tall, spindly pine trees and my neighbor’s leaf-filled yard. From my perch at the edge of my bed, I followed a lone russet leaf as it floated, feather-like-in its drift downward, to join the growing leaf pile tucked into the stone wall corner at the back of the driveway.

American Beech tree crowns hang over the back of the driveway. Their leaves drop late, often long into the winter when rattling winds cannot cleave them from their branch until the leaf is ready. Southern in origin, they hold fast to their nature.

This past week, the wet, dreary, foggy weather fit my mood. Readers are aware that I voted for Hillary and struggle with President Elect Trump who is very far from my own nature. Like the leaf, I am drifting, ever so slowly in an effort to find the right place to land. Up to November 9th, I was content in the Liberal pile and at times, leaning towards the Progressive. Now, I am clearly left of center, opposed to and resisting the choices, values and beliefs of the upcoming Trump administration. On alert, I float, open to activism in the service of a viable democracy.

I sign petitions, send money to causes I believe in, causes at risk. I plan to send a“ Not Bannon” postcard addressed to Donald Trump, c/o The Trump Organization, 725 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, 10022 tomorrow. Opposing the Bannon influence of linguistic manipulation and white male supremacy with neo-Nazi leanings is a top priority.

As soon as I read of Jill Stein’s Crowd Source Recount Fund, I signed on. I felt a surge of hope when I received a Washington Post notice that Hillary’s campaign will participate in the Wisconsin recount with an eye on outside interference. I have never believed in conspiracy theories but in this post election environment, I believe that conspiracies are possible. We need to work for and insist upon transparency especially in the electoral results.

A friend recently wrote of her efforts to make phone calls to Senators and Representatives. Apparently, e-mails are less effective than phone calls. I need to focus and select who and when to call. If you have experience with this tactic, please leave a comment with details about the issue and who you are passionate about contacting.

Readers, I would like to hear about your efforts to make a difference in this post election environment. We need to share information and show strength of purpose and flexibility in our ability to discern what is the right course for each of us to take.

I am grateful for this blog and the opportunity to reflect, share, speak out and learn from others. I welcome your experience and comments. Please share.


Soul Tracking 2: American Beech Tree

American Beech, 2016

American Beech, 2016

In September, 2004, I laid eyes on the gray lady American Beech for the first time. Truly, it was her single-eyed, plump mouth, her roots threading and dangling down the back hillside, her quietude that beckoned me to this piece of earth I have since called home.

She sits, queen-like, front and center in a grove of grey American Beech trees. Her leafy crown is wide and high. Joined with her siblings and kin, I feel sheltered under their verdant canopy.

All these years later, the gray lady still calls out to me— in winter, when the winds whirl about, her soft gray bark darkens and gleams; in spring, when her shallow roots swell with new shoots, and all during summer, when her leaves billow forward to offer pastoral shade, a sense of the sacred.

At the base of this hill filled with decades-old, low branching trees, a hidden cache across from the Charles River, I feel grateful, even blessed, to have embraced the task of steward. American Beeches, Fagus grandiforia, are the only species of beech native to North America. Before the glacial period, beech trees thrived throughout North America. It was common for Native Americans to choose the thick, smooth tree for tribal carvings.

American Beeches are survivors, little to be done, except for a seasonal misting of natural spray to ward off gypsy and winter months. In fall, the leaves thin out and turn golden. Unlike the maples and oaks, they do not shed their leaves in short order but linger. There is one tree, very large, on the line between my neighbor and myself. It sheds a few leaves weekly throughout late fall and all during the winter, leaving a small pile in the corner of the driveway, a reminder to attend to the whole cycle by collecting leaves for recycling into mulch.

Up close and even from behind my window in the midst of winter, the gray lady holds the promise of steadiness, calm, and beauty. Alex Hutchinson, writing “How Trees Calm Us Down, in http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/what-is-a-tree-worth, writes, “ a leafy tableau is more therapeutic than a drab brick wall–­–and puzzling. Whatever curative property the trees possessed, how were they casting it though a pane of glass?

Hutchinson aptly describes elements of my own soul-tracking, emphasizing the matter of attentiveness. “Your eye is captured by the shape of a branch, a ripple in the water; your mind follows.” To receive benefits from a tree, “the environment has to have some kind of stimulation to activate your involuntary attention—your fascination.”

Natural environments provide “softly fascinating stimulation,” and truly, that day in 2004, on the edge of retiring from my long-term psychotherapy practice, I was sorely in need of a soft landing. For the bounty of trees I am privileged to behold from every window in my present home, I am grateful to the beckoning gray lady American Beech for grounding me.