I’ve been drawn to trees since I was a young kid, mostly as a climber. This old tree caught my eye on a hill that I drive by on my way to work. The tree is interesting because there are no other trees around it. It’s all alone on this hilltop, struggling against the elements to survive. The thick trunk is bent over to the point that it defies gravity.
I remember my college photography teacher explaining that seeing a deer all alone in a dry meadow 100 yards away may be exciting when you see it in person, but it doesn’t necessarily make a good photograph. It’s just a speck of brown in a big field of yellow. You’ve got to zoom in or walk in for a closer look.
I decided to walk in for a closer look at one tree hill, during a break in my run on Saturday. I had to jump a barbed wire fence and trudge through snake territory to get there, my running shoes slipping sideways on the steep incline. The hike was worth it. I looked around from the tree’s point of view to see Tracy in the East and Livermore in the West. No wonder it was all alone. This was some great real estate.
The tree is magnificently strong, and must have deep roots to be able to hang on to the hilltop like that. What was even more amazing was the other side that you can’t see from the road. It was scarred and missing a large chunk due to a giant branch having fallen away. Half the trunk was hollow at the base, yet it still supported the one heavy branch growing at an impossibly sideways angle.
I reached up and placed a hand on the rough bark of that one huge branch. I gave it a little shove but it didn’t budge. I could almost feel the ancient life force speaking to me, saying “Dude, I’m surviving 50 mph winds up here. You’re not going to push me over.”
I wrapped my arms around the branch to measure the circumference, and then laughed at myself when I realized I was actually hugging a tree. Please don’t tell anyone.
If Barbara Walters asked you if you were a tree, isn’t this the tree you’d want to be? You’d have a strong base, like your deep roots with family and friends. You’d be a little scarred from previous storms, but still showing your best face to the world. Bring on the wind, the lightning, the frost, the termites and the brush fires. You’re still standing and you’re still growing.