Deep Roots

Trees are among my favorite living things.

“Trees purify the air; they also purify the mind . . . if you want to save your world, you must save the trees.” —The Trees of Endor in J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,

Hidden under the rich soil is an enormous underpinning of roots; an intricate system that extends two to three times the radius of the crown. Deep roots anchor the tree; enabling it to dance without falter; to sway in unison with other trees in the unpredictable wind.

Weathered tree roots along a high-and-dry portion of the West Fork Bitterroot River

When we look to trees—learn from and emulate them—we discover the ancient key to tranquility. We’re reminded that we, too, have deep roots and are meant to branch out into the world.

And while life seems to move faster and faster each day, when we stand still like trees, remaining rooted to what sustains us; we remember to take pleasure in nature and hold dear all who live here.

Trees are my personal reminder that deep roots allow me to bend in a storm—to be flexible—while still reaching for the sky.

If you could be any tree, what type would it be?


76 thoughts on “Deep Roots

    • Olga — I agree that it’s a difficult choice, but name name is so similar to Laurel, that I’d choose to be a Laurel tree. Here’s what I learned about them:

      “LAUREN—Laurus nobilis—is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glabrous leaves, in the flowering plant family Lauraceae. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is used as bay leaf for seasoning in cooking. Its common names include bay laurel, sweet bay, bay, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree or simply laurel.”

      And I love the Mediterranean, so I’d be extremely happy with my location 🙂

  1. I couldn’t be a tree.
    Even metaphorically I can’t think of tree I’d want to be.
    I love our giant Kauri trees – 25ft in diameter, 100ft straight up to the first branch, 2,000 years old.
    I am a thinking, moving entity.
    I try to think in time scales that make even our Kauri seem like youngsters.
    And the idea of roots and leaves has a kind of metaphorical use, the roots gathering the materials for growth, the leaves gathering energy to power growth.

    And for me, being me, is about the systems, the ever evolving relationships between biology, culture and creative thought.

    The systems created in evolutionary biology can be used by analogy in other realms, and evolution tends to optimise for specific situations is very subtle ways, so can be profoundly complex in ways that very few have even the vaguest inkling of.

    I’m just happy being me, related to all of biology, all of culture, all of the creative possibilities of cooperative diversity, in so many ways that I have only the vaguest hints of.

    • Ted — Since you can’t be a tree (and I understand your reasoning), you and Ailsa might enjoy sitting under the shade of my Laurel tree branches. You’ll have to come visit me in the Mediterranean, because that’s where I thrive 🙂

      • Sounds like a grand plan, once we have universal basic income instantiated, and reasonable levels of cooperation operant universally.

  2. Beautiful words, Laurie. I am never happier than we park our van for a few days in a wooded area, even better if there is some kind of water course, may it be a river, a lake or just a stream. I love willow trees because they live on the water’s edge and some of them are so big, that one could live under their branches without being seen by the outside world. I also love the fact that their branches go back to the ground, like trying to reach their roots. How about you?

    • Fatima — I love the beautiful word picture you painted about being a WILLOW tree. I can absolutely see you as that!

      Me, I’d be a LAUREL tree: “Laurus nobilis (Laurel tree) is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glabrous leaves, in the flowering plant family Lauraceae. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is used as bay leaf for seasoning in cooking. Its common names include bay laurel, sweet bay, bay, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree or simply laurel.”

      • Good choice! I have one in my patio and often use the leaves for my cooking. I love the expression “to rest on one’s laurels”, as the Greek used them to celebrate achievement as in the Olympic Games.

  3. Interesting post, Laurie–and root photo. I love trees, but while I think I have deep roots, I don’t think I’m rooted like a tree–that is immobile–and I don’t think I’d want to be. 🙂

  4. A banyan tree! They create a stunning visual above ground with their many aerial roots that branch about with the ability to become additional trunks.

  5. Trees are very special. Living on the prairies, we didn´t have many trees around. A wayward seed found it´s way in a roadside ditch on the way into our ranch. It grew into a tree. My dad wrote letters to the municipality asking that the tree not be mowed down when the crew came to do the yearly maintenance of the ditch. Thye complied and we ended up having a tree growing beside the road. That is how precious trees were to our family. It was perhaps a caragana tree but I´m not sure. We planted a tree at the local museum in dad´s name when he passed away ten years ago.

    • Darlene — I love the story you shared here. New to me, I just looked up “caragana tree” and saw how lovely they are.

      What a beautiful tribute to your father, painting a tree in his name.

      • The caragana tree was one of the few that could survive the hot dry summers and severely cold winters of the Canadian prairies. This hardy tree originates from Siberia and was no doubt brought over by the immigrants from that part of the world. It also has medicinal attributes. I´m glad you enjoyed the story of Dad saving a lone tree.

  6. Trees are essential to our life here on Earth. Trees speak to me through their sighs during wind and rain storms, their love words when the sun shines on them and a breeze flutters their leaves. Trees shelter me and protect me. I wish I could protect the trees more often than I do. From my writing space, I view large trees that offer me companionship as I type and view their lovely greenery. I would be honored to become any of those trees; at mind comes the Beech tree, straight in front of me, with lovely light fluttery leaves of grateful peace. I glorify in the fullness of its being from spring through early fall, and mourn when those leaves flutter to the earth in late October. Then the branches are stark beauty in the winter, weathering the snow and ice with grace and beauty. I’d love to be like that.

  7. I too love trees; I’ve even hugged a few.(with their permission of course). Oak Trees are a keystone species. “Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether,” per National Geographic. Oaks in North America have been around since 7,000 B.C.! I’ve seen growth maps for the Midwest, we’ve lost well over 90% of our Oaks due to another keystone species, human beings. One of my favorite trees is the Silver Leaf Maple. I love it’s shape, shade and silver underleaf. I grew up with one in our front yard. It died (perhaps a coincidence) within months of my dad’s death. There are, happily, two Silver Leaf Maples outside my current home. But, rather than be a tree, I’d like to foster support for trees!

    • I neglected to mention when the remains of the Silver Leaf Maple from our family home was taken down after it was no longer viable, each sibling were given a small cream colored 4″ x 2″ wooden box. Inside the box is a small baggie with earth from where the tree stood and the tiniest little branch from the tree. The box sits in front of an iconic picture of my dad.

    • Audrey — I had no idea that “OAKS in North America have been around since 7,000 B.C.” Holy Toledo!

      Your observation about human beings is wise and very telling. Just look what we’re doing to the oceans. And we actually left trash (yes, we littered) on the moon. We “keystone humans” tend to leave an unflattering wake wherever we go.

      Very interesting reading about the SILVER LEAF MAPLE in relation your father’s death.

      • Ilinois and Wisconsin are seriously working on Oak Tree restoration. I found this wonderful pdf on California Oaks. Yes, our destructive wake is greater than any natural tsunami. ☹

        Click to access 152328.pdf

  8. My favorite tree is a Weeping Willow. I shared that love with my daughter and anticipate doing so again with my granddaughters. Today, I am pulling up invasive violets out of my backyard. Talk about a root system! Those babies are amazing.

    • Shirley — I have met a number of beautiful WEEPING WILLOWS in my day. How wonderful that you share your love of them with your daughter and granddaughters! What a lovely part of your legacy.

      I’m picturing you in your backyard WRESTLING with violets. As you pull, they pull back! 🙂

  9. We as human being are completely dependent on plants of all kinds. Trees especially have a special place in my heart. I especially love maples and beech trees, tall, stately beings with roots that travel far.

  10. Laurie, I have always loved trees and felt a connection to them. It’s hard to choose my favorite but magnolia trees and red maples stand out as real beauties. When our area experienced a tornado several years ago and many trees were lost, I felt the pain of that loss. I swear I heard the surviving trees cry.

  11. Lovely post, dear Laurie. I’d want to be an ancient cherry tree like the one outside my writing room window that provides shade, shelter, food, beauty, and inspiration for others. The birds and I adore the mossy old giant in my garden.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

  12. I love trees, and have personal favorites connected to my childhood. Climbing an old yew tree in the garden of my school; playing hide-and-seek in the canopy of a willow; walking in a beech wood with the crackle of beechnuts underfoot. When it comes to the image I am drawn to, it is birch trees and aspens. Thank you for the trip down memory lane Laurie 💛

  13. Laurie, had to dig deep for this one, I love trees so much and so many of them are my favorites. I think I would choose to be a dogwood tree. They are so beautiful in the Spring with their snowy white blossoms that wave in the breeze. They cast good shade in the Summer, brighten the landscape in Fall with their brilliant scarlet leaves and they feed the birds in Winter with clusters of bright red berries. As a matter of fact, when I pass, I’ve asked that my ashes be scattered under a dogwood tree in Georgia. The Legend of the Dogwood Tree is so touching, it makes a person want to pat the poor tree on the back and offer it a clean handkerchief.

  14. What a lovely post. I love the idea of staying rooted. My first thoughts are Oak, but then that conjures up large, old and wise trees… not sure I’m ready to be one of those yet. lol I too love Weeping Willows, but wouldn’t call myself a weeper. I think If I had to chose a tree to be, I’d be an English Elder Tree – which apparently has a ‘protective’ meaning, which dates back from Pagan times.

  15. I adore trees, just like you Laurie . I rather like the Whomping Willow in Harry Potter. It makes me giggle but if I’m truly being honest about what tree I would want to be it would have to be the English Oak . I love to stand with my back to an oak tree and feel it ‘s immense magnitude… it ‘s truly astounding .

  16. I lived in Asia more than half my life – feeling rootless at times. Once at a Writer’s Conference, we were to write on a theme: “Looking for my tree.” I wanted my tree to be a Birch, as I had read about in an old story “The Birch and the Star” from my home country, Finland.
    As I wrote, my tree appeared – a Banyan tree with aerial roots reaching down to the ground. One of the roots formed a swing for all the kids to play on. There was a tree like that in my childhood home country, Ceylon.
    I had started a home for orphans in Thailand – a childhood dream – which in a way was fulfilled in my Tree Story. That children’s home is still alive after 42 years!

  17. I would be a mesquite tree because the roots go really deep to get water, their leaves are like delicate lace and the wood is hard and can be make into beautiful things. I grew up surrounded by them in South Texas.

  18. I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.

    A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
    Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

    A tree that looks at God all day,
    And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

    A tree that may in summer wear
    A nest of robins in her hair;

    Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
    Who intimately lives with rain.

    Poems are made by fools like me,
    But only God can make a tree.
    -Joyce Kilmer (a fellow New Jerseyite)

    Well, I do love the longevity and command of the largest trees. Something about an oak in indomitable and that’s the type I’d go for.

  19. Thank you for the sentence, “deep roots allow me to bend in a storm.” A great metaphor. I’ve been clearing my tree rings the past few days, getting ready to plant nasturtiums around them. Being in such close proximity to these beings that have stood on this ground far longer than I have, has been humbling.

  20. Thanks a tonne Laurie for sharing your perspective on this so beautiful topic! Your cavernous thoughts are enriched with vital lessons that speak from experience! Highly appreciated! 🙂
    To choose a tree that may portray my soul has to be an arduous question. I’m just 14 so I’m in a process of discovering myself so I don’t know what really fits me! 🙂 But I’d genuinely love to be a Sakura (cherry-blossom) tree! in Japanese culture from where it originates, it represents the beauty and fragility of life reminding that life is overwhelmingly beautiful but that it’s also tragically short! When it blossoms in spring, it provokes us to relish those small ecstatic moments in life as euphoria is the greatest form of success!

  21. Birch Tree for sure. I love how the white color stands out in a crowd. They are tall and lean and appear proud to be so unique. You can’t help but be drawn to looking at it with it’s contrasting color compared to the other trees in the woods and in the fall it’s beautiful orange leaves enhance the whiteness making it a truly one of a kind tree! Tina

      • Lol. But not the only one. They aren’t known for their roots but should be.
        Their whole make up is made to endure the worse hurricane winds.
        There are many different palms but I think most people just picture the tall think ones. That’s okay with me, people picturing me as tall and thin.
        Thanks again, Beetle

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