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.