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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Trees and Prayers

June 5th.
I was thinking about prayer stories as we were looking at Joshua trees on the desert today. It is a sad thing to me that many people today have never had the depth of understanding that the pioneers crossing those same deserts had, so that when they saw the trees that perpetually hold up their arms, they naturally named them “Joshua Trees.” If people today know about Joshua at all, they think of the battle of Jericho and maybe can hum the song. There is a richness to having the background to fill in the story about Joshua praying with his arms uplifted, and the profound effect it had on the children of Israel.

June 6th.
From that subject I naturally turn to trees in general. I like trees. I especially like trees in California.

We had a fan palm in our yard as I was growing up. It looked like this one. It was a baby when we first planted it, only a couple of feet high. We always seemed to have to pose in front of it for Easter pictures when we were wearing our best clothes, or graduations, or other occasions like that. When we moved, it was a number of feet high. Nothing says “You’re in California” like palm trees, huh? Well, we happened to drive down the street where the house is that I am talking about, and here is the fan palm, very tall and all grown up. I cannot express how strange it was to see this tree, alien and towering. It doesn’t help that the house looks entirely different. The garage has been turned into a room. The big old walnut trees are all gone. The pyracanthus bushes are gone. Only the roof is the same.

The other trees I love about California are the oaks. There are a lot of species of oaks native to California, but my favorite is the valley oak. I love the look of valley oaks dotting golden hillsides. They make me think of Spanish haciendas of the earlier history of California, and I picture romantic scenes of vaqueros on horseback with their saddles decked out in silver dashing about the landscape.

The groves of eucalyptus trees smell to me like my youth. The time they were introduced to California is up for debate, one story being they were brought from Australia by Sir Joseph Banks, a royal botanist with the Cook expedition of 1770, and another story saying it was gold miners of 1849 through the 1850s who brought them. They are now known to cause ecological damage in a number of ways, and it would be better, say the scientists who know about these things, if the eucalyptus groves could be replaced by the native oaks. But I still love that aroma.

But by far the best trees in California to me are the giant redwoods. We are going to see them in a few days. They are the oldest and tallest trees on earth; they are the most majestic of trees in the world. They grow only in the narrow strip of land along about 400 miles of Pacific coastline in northern California and Oregon.

Now that we have seen these trees (obviously I wrote this blog over a period of several days!), I have to explain this photograph. I lay down on the needles at its base and took the picture straight up. The needles are one of the softest beds I think I have ever lain on. I could have easily taken a nap there with that giant standing guard at my head.

There is something cathedral-like, something divine in a grove of trees. It cannot have been an accident that Joseph Smith was in a grove of trees when he saw the Father and the Son. Trees are inspiring to me.

1 comment:

  1. Your comment about it not being an accident that Joseph Smith was in a grove of trees when he saw the Father and the Son really touched me. I too, am a lover of trees. One of my favorite poems is Birches by Robert Frost. It reminds me of a birch tree in my backyard when I was a kid. I used to love to climb trees. I still would if I wasn't worried about injuries. Several years ago I told my husband out of the blue that I felt a need to hug a redwood. He is a sensitive and wonderful man so a few years later I got to do just that. I love to touch plants and feel of their spirits. Trees, especially the giant redwoods have such old and almost noble spirits. Thank you for your blog.


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