Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow

The squirrels in our neck of the woods are industriously gathering and hoarding acorns for winter. The empty holes in the precision-drilled oak trunks are tell-tale signs that the cheeky little fellows have additionally robbed the woodpeckers of their bounty.


It’s no secret that great things often have small beginnings. What begin as acorns become mighty oaks, and I’ve learned a lot from observing the towering sentinels in our yard:


  • Deep roots keep us grounded—know who I am, what I value, and why I’m here.
  • Teamwork and being able to stand alone are equally important.
  • Energy efficient, trees waste very little.
  • Stillness has many rewards—slow down.
  • Flexibility allows us to bend, not break, in stormy weather.
  • As trees close a cycle, they shed baggage to move forward into the next cycle.
  • Regardless of the weather, reach for the sky!

What have you learned from observing trees?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

The Book—Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience—Life Harmony

© Laurie Buchanan 2013

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67 thoughts on “Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow

  1. Wonderful, metaphor, Laurie. Trees have taught me to reach for new heights. It’s so important to aim high. Low expectations will get you equally meager rewards. Higher ones may not end up earning you exactly the heights you aimed for, but if you don’t try, you are certain of only one thing. You won’t arrive where you’d like to.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  2. MARVELOUS Post Laurie Ji !!…
    What have you learned from observing trees? Pleasure or Pain be Unperturbed and keep GROWING UP !!..

  3. Laurie, once again you have said it so well…I can’t think of anything to add. Lately, I have been stopping to notice and admire all the mighty oaks in Milwaukee. They are a natural beauty full of strength. I recently started a permaculture class and have learned so many more uses for woody matter in the natural cycle of life. They are amazing!
    🙂 Karin Conway, Organic Growth Coach

  4. The tree is such a life force for all of us. I just love them all so much. I was on course a few nights ago and the word chlorophyl was in one of the sentences and I was so taken by the word when I looked it up in the dictionary, I wrote a blog on it. When I was looking for a youTube so I had a clearer understanding of it, I found this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_v6_5Zxdb68 for 7th graders (and us of course) about why the colors change. We have a place nearby where we can all plant trees. I am inspired from your blog to plant another one. You are such a blessing.

  5. Trees show us how connected we are. They provide us with oxygen, while we provide them with Carbon Dioxide. We depend on each other. And in the long, hot days of summer they provide with shade … nature’s air conditioners.

  6. When I received native teachings while researching my books, I was taught that one can draw energy and serenity from sitting with one’s back against a trees trunk. It is remarkable how one feels after doing so. 🙂

    • Mywithershins – Yes, and by hugging them to. Back in the day, Native American children were taught to “hug a tree” if they became lost. That way, they wouldn’t wander any farther afield, and they’d remain calm and grounded while waiting to be found.

  7. I have learned that when times are stormy, I must bend and flex. When the snows grow heavy on my shoulders I must bend and flex. When spring arrives, I stand tall and reach for the skies.

  8. 2013 has been the year of huge evergreen trees coming down all around me. 25 – 150-200 pound branches during a February wind storm right outside my bedroom window and then the huge Western Cedar on the other side of the house taking out the neighbor’s garage, our fence, and most of their deck as in March it just fell down – maybe 300 years old…..trees can be noisy and they need gallons and gallons of water, lots of loving care, and respect.

    • Patricia – Gosh, but I’m sorry for the loss of that 300 year old tree. That had to be heartbreaking. When it was cleared away, were they able to salvage firewood for your wintertime use?

      Our neighborhood is located in the midst of approximately 200-year-old trees; mostly oak and hickory, but there are few maples that clearly receive all of the oohing and aahing in the fall 🙂

      • The neighbors have a new garage and we have a new fence. Their gentleman farmer son-in-law spent a number of hours bucking up the tree and the large portion that is left is going to remain to be a nursery log.

        topping these fir trees is very dangerous sport and I neighbors did just that when they moved here 30+ years ago…the tree just gave up. I will try to take a picture of the stump that is remaining. They built the deck and garage on top of the roots and surrounded the tree with the house…they were incredibly lucky it did not uproot and send the whole house down the bluff to the lake – incredibly lucky.

        Several folks wanted to buy the wood but the cost was prohibitive. Yes a beautiful tree – but damaged by the unknowing

  9. Hi Laurie …I have the most ancient apple tree in my garden (about 60 years old we think) . It is truly the most beautiful tree . It gives us backdrop for our daffodils in the spring , shade in the summer , sweet apples in the autumn and the frost or snow gives it a cloak in the winter .
    The apple pies, we make with the apples, are legendary .
    Cherry x

  10. When I was a young girl a family of trees to shared my troubles and my joys. They listened and gave me strength. Now as an adult I remain fortunate by continuing to live amongst the trees. I admire how they give and give but ask for so very little. I envy how they can shed their leaves and grow new each year. I’d like to be able to do that with some of my body parts. : )

  11. They are all embracing and kind of teach me to be open and generous.(They provide shade and shelter ,allow birds to sit ,relax and romance,bear flowers and fruits for our consumption,very giving in nature.)

  12. Hi Laurie,

    I have seen so many things observing trees, they are such complex entities, with such complex relationships with the other life forms around them. Between trees, there seems to be a battle for existence, with one eventually winning, and growing over and shading out all of its competitors. But that competition happens on a time scale of many human generations. At our time scale trees often appear static, yet they are not.

    The technology employed by trees to lift water provides a limit to their height, which the giant sequoias have reached.
    Trees must grow slowly, because most of the energy they harvest from the sun goes into building massive structures in roots and stems. A single human being uses as much energy as a giant sequoia, but we use it to move and to think. And we must get that energy from plants, that get it from the sun (if we get our energy from animals that feed on plants, then it takes the equivalent of a grove of adult sequoias to support a single human).

    Trees must battle parasites of many sorts – from epiphytic plants growing in their branches, to animals, birds, insects. etc browsing on their foliage and burrowing in their trunks. There are vines that grow up tree trunks and strangle the original tree, here in NZ the Rata is a prime example.

    Trees form relationships that are mutually beneficial with many other life forms, from fungi that supply minerals to the roots in exchange for sugars, to woodpeckers that rid the tree of insects in exchange for a safe place to live.

    In trees I see a subset in miniature of the awesome complexity of living systems, and the often subtle interactions that occasionally occur between different life forms, that are critical to the long term survival of all.

    And I just love the smell and the feel of them.
    I love walking barefoot in the leaf litter under the giant Kauri trees of Northland, or the mighty 2,000 year old Totara found here in Kaikoura.

    And yes – in the struggle for life, it does pay to reach higher than the competition.
    And maybe, just maybe, we can create systems where we remove the struggle, and all cooperate for the benefit of all of us. It does seem that it might, just, be possible.

    • Ted – I especially love your statement about walking barefoot in the fallen leaves. YES! And If I’m not mistaken, one of your strongest, most supportive trees — The Ailsa — is on her way home 🙂

  13. Oh my… this may be my favorite post of yours yet, Laurie! I love that trees have given you so many life lessons. Indeed, they are worth studying. Thanks for illuminating their secret messages. A tree, it turns out, is not simply “a tree.” I had the fortune of being home in PA last week and was reminded of how much I miss those towering oaks. Our desert trees are more like shrubs, but they, too, have those necessary roots and teach similar lessons.

  14. I often think about how cool it would be to be a squirrel for a day … They are brimming with character and confidence. They warn their mates when danger is near and tenderly take care of their young. I suppose we share some qualities with them although it’s the ability to jump from a tree 15 feet up onto our bird feeder in the middle of the yard that really calls to me. 🙂
    My apologies for getting sidetracked … Trees have taught me humility, I love the fractal design of trees and have adopted this profound notion into my being. Trees have taught me self-similarity, each tiny little bud on an ever growing branch is but a smaller version of the tree itself … Kinda like being a parent, a friend … Thank you Laurie for kicking my brain into gear this afternoon.

  15. Speaking of squirrels Laurie, we had our hands full recently when we had to have a roofer close off a small pocket that allowed entrance into our house. We once had a squireel find its way into a heat vent, and one of the kids yelped after it made an unwelcome appearance! Guess that storage place was over our ceilings. Ha!

    Trees are one of nature’s most remarkable achievements. They are majestic and help to preserve our intimacy with nature. John Knowles’ classic novel “A Separate Peace” sized them up thematically like no other. A large oak was the central protagonist of the story in fact.

    • Sam – Yikes! I’ve heard horror stories about squirrels in people’s attics (apparently extremely difficult to evict). Thank you for the book recommendation, I’ve just added it to my reading list :grin”

  16. Hi Laurie, I love this post. I have beautiful oaks on our property, we have issues with both woodpeckers and squirrels. Our arborist tells us that these critters can do a lot of damage to these old oaks. But…what are you going to do, they were in these trees way before we purchased the property 🙂

  17. There is strength in silence and peace to be found in the whispering of the wind through the boughs of the trees 🙂

  18. How cool! I just wrote a birthday card to a friend yesterday that described her as a tree (the picture on the front of the card was a beautiful tree that I cut from a magazine). So your words are making me smile this day. You are a beautiful tree, too, with deep roots and beautiful multi-colored leaves waving in the late summer breeze. Ooops, if you’re multi-colored it must mean that fall’s on its way…grin..

    • Kathy – I love the word picture you painted. And yes, fall is definitely on its way. Much like you, we experience our first snowfall on or about Halloween. Yikes – it’s just around the corner 🙂

  19. Pingback: Lessons from trees | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

  20. Pingback: The Oak economy | SwedishCountryLiving®

  21. To appreciate and value Nature above all things.
    Home is home even if it has leaks (ask the birds).
    I love the sun, but shade from the trees in summer is invaluable (this summer it was so hot in France that we refused to park our motorhome in places with no trees).
    Enjoy the scent of fresh air.
    Be patient. Big and wonderful things happen to those who wait!

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