Lover of Trees

The other day I was at a stoplight, spacing, thinking about the sound of waves and the heat of summer or the whooshing of air though the open car windows – or whatever it is I think of when I’m not really thinking at all. Anyway, there was a woman on the corner, she had waist-length hair and wore a prairie skirt. Her arms were stretched around a tree in a bear hug. I use “tree” loosely, it was really more of a tall shrub, an evergreen column. Her head was turned, cheek to scrub.

Now, there is a woman who really loves trees, I thought, good for her.

Then the light changed and as I pulled away, she stepped back and moved her walking cane from one hand to the other and tapped her way across the street. How awesome is it that she has a perfectly acceptable excuse to hug trees all day? I’m a bit jealous.  

I love trees and have been kind of captivated by their health benefits since I first read about this Japanese study that found men who walked in the forest for 2 hours for 2 days had a 50% spike in natural killer cells (cells that destroy abnormal cancer cells). And the study found that women showed a spike in immune system function that lasted for over a week.

In January a similar study was released. 140 people were instructed to walk though a forest for a few hours while another 140 people were instructed to walk though a city for a few hours. The second day they changed places. The study found that being among plants produced “lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,” among other things.

It makes me want to try harder to find places to plant trees in my already full yard. Maybe I’ll find a few more places. Maybe I’ll put in a bat house or two. Maybe the barn swallows will like it too. Maybe they’ll eat all our insects. Maybe they’ll all help us live longer.

6 thoughts on “Lover of Trees

  1. Sarah Beckon

    Whoa..Really? I’m about to go to the forest. I’ll make a point of walking through the forest daily. Does a dog or two crashing through the area disrupt the development of good juju? I wonder if walking on the beach in the sun has similar effects?

  2. Barb

    Another post that is perfectly timed for me since, of course, the world revolves around me. 🙂 I have been thinking about buying and planting more trees but I keep putting it off so I can spend the money on other things. I am going to go to a nursery and look at trees this weekend, and I am going to read this post over and over again in the next few months. A few days ago Sam ran down our front yard and hugged the tree at the base of the hill. The boy needs more trees to hug. Thanks for the encouragement!!!

  3. Mary Beth Hawkins Petersen

    This post reminds me of what Eleanor said this weekend. We spent the night at her Grandma’s house out by Mt Rainier. It took a lot of driving to get there. When the road went through wooded areas she told be she felt safe. I asked why. She said she feels safer when there are trees all around.
    With that and with your post I’m going to make it a point to spend more time with Eleanor with trees all around.

  4. Jenn

    It sounds like you are ready for a hike with John, Dan, and Nick. 😉 You might want to ask Paul first if he thinks it is a good idea. hah!

    I love sitting in my backyard during the kids’ rest time on a sunny day and watching the wind blow through the trees and listening to the silence of it all.

  5. Katherine Post author

    Jenn, I think walks in the woods are great. I have a feeling that hiking with those boys would be a death march for me!

  6. Tami

    Really?! Wow. So maybe I will stop bullying Paco into thinning our woods. I mean, my argument that we need more vitamin d in this cave is kinda spoiled now.

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