I've just discovered a wonderful blog, Never Say Never To Your Traveling Self. She has an excellent post on the importance of nature in our lives. (Also be sure to check out the 2 posts on bell hooks.) She speaks of being distanced from nature by our lifestyles, but of still feeling the need to connect with living things. She really got to me on the need to touch a tree.
Her post reminded me of an "incident" from my childhood.
I was in first or second grade, and the teacher told us to draw a picture and write a short story about our best friend. Usually, I had trouble making decisions, but for once there was no problem. My best friend was the blue spruce that grew in our front yard. It was a massive, gorgeous tree. Whenever I was upset, I could sit by the tree. If inside, I only had to look out my bedroom window to see it. The tree instantly calmed me and made me happy.
When we finished writing, the teacher made us take turns reading our story to the class. To my horror, I realized that every other child had written about another person. I was the only one to write about a tree. I was already getting used to being a freak relative to the other kids, but what was worse was I'd gotten the assignment wrong! I was a stupid freak!
Sure enough, when I read my story, the other kids laughed and the teacher was not happy. From that moment on, I considered that story to be evidence of how I didn't measure up. I selected a tree as my best friend? It's taken several years into adulthood to see that choice was a defining moment in my life. I loved that tree dearly, and it was my best friend.