Places of sanctuary, a friend in the forest, the holder of secrets for the explorer. These are a few of their gifts. Trees speak to me, they dance in my heart, offer stability to my journey, creating a point of navigation from childhood into adulthood. As I grow, my tree grows.
From the fictional Faraway Tree of Enid Blyton to the home of WOL in Winnie the Pooh, the Tree of Life in the Qabalah, the power of the Runes; the numerous gifts of trees are woven through the myths and legends of our differing lands and cultures.
In worlds often set far apart from creativity and consciousness we have used their wood to light our fires, to build our homes, to furnish them, to protect them, to fill them with food, to help us to fish the great oceans and hunt across wild tracts of land.
The fire in the hearth, cribs, tables, chairs, fences, an abundance of fruit and nuts, canoes, boats, bows, arrows, gallows, coffins, the funeral pyre. From birth to death, over aeons, trees have supported us.
Similarly, trees have nurtured the delicate ecosystem of the earth itself by offering stability to the soil that we harvest from, improving the quality of the air that we breathe and the availability of the water that we drink.
The roots of the trees anchor them into the earth, travelling down through the soil in search of the water they need to grow, drawing it up through the trunks as they harvest the minerals and moisture they need before releasing the excess into the atmosphere through the transpiration of the tiny cells in their leaves, a release that eventually returns to us as rain.
The trees of my childhood are magical beings, offering safety and adventure, a welcome haven to return to once I have travelled far.
The trees of my present are tribal beings, offering life.
The acacia tree that alerts neighbouring acacias to the presence of the grazing giraffe, the oak trees that change the colour of their leaves to confuse the visiting devastation of the oak apple wasp; they care for each other.
- Trees nurture us.
- Trees nurture the Earth.
- Trees nurture one another.
Trees are sustainable individuals who as a tribe offer a future, through a community of co-operation, one in which all parties are supported to achieve their full growth potential.
What lessons we might learn from imitating this approach?
The trees planted in Kenya through The Word Forest Organisation are planted by the people who live there, ones who are empowered by the trees to see an immediate difference taking place in their own communities. Near to the equator, these trees are stimulated by many hours of sunshine to grow fast, rapidly working to help balance the immediacy of the climate challenges we all face.
These magical beings from my childhood are working hard to fulfil the complex claims of the present, with the most immediate gifts being experienced by those living in partnership with them.
Amongst those that plant the trees and those that care for them are the Mothers of the Forest. To these local women the trees provide food, they provide an income and a purpose. Funding education, they offer the promise of a sustainable future for their children. The magical realisation of a childhood lived well growing up into a productive adulthood.
A sustainable gift that offers hope to us all.
To learn more about this inspiring project and how you might help, please watch #TreesAreTheKey narrated by Kate Winslet and have a look around our website.
Vicky Argyle and the Team