by Susan Skinner
A couple of weeks ago, I was on my way to
help clean up a community blueberry orchard. It was a beautiful blue sky day and I decided
to stop in an open field and connect with nature. Shortly after continuing, as I walked up
to the tree line by a pond that borders the field, I was called to by a grey birch tree.
At first, I just looked at the tree as I walked
by but before getting past it, I had to stop and really look at it. Ive walked by
this same tree a number of times but didnt notice it. My friend was being choked by
Japanese honeysuckle and wisteria. It was so bad, the vines hung in curtains from the
lower branches to the ground. The wisteria was the vehicle for the largest honeysuckle
vines and it was wrapped all the way up the trunk to the highest branches of the 25 foot
tree. It was literally being strangled and dragged to the ground.
I needed to get to the blueberries but I talked
to the birch and promised to return. I started to walk away but it was crying at me. It
pulled at my heart. I promised to be back later that same day. Only then did I feel the
sense of urgency subside.
After almost 4 hours of intensive pruning in
the blueberry patch, I left tired and hungry and having totally forgotten about the
earlier encounter and promise. I left my pruning saw with a friend to continue pruning
blueberry bushes. So that left only my pruning cutters (a sturdy pair, thank goodness!) in
my pack. I was walking along pleased about the work that had been done when I found myself
walking straight towards the birch.
My first thought was that I would come back
tomorrow. But when I got closer I knew I had to at least get started. I had promised.
Dropping my pack, armed with my cutters I started on the curtains thinking if I just cut
the vines, they would dry up and eventually break off of the tree. It was soon apparent
that method was not going to provide the relief the tree was pleading for. I had to
explain to the vines as I worked that they did not need the tree as much as the tree
needed to be free from them. As I worked it was incredible to sense the emotions from the
tree and the vines. I climbed, unwrapped, clipped and kept going until the tree was
It practically wrecked my cutters but one hour
later, I stood back and felt the tree breathe unrestricted. This was my reward.
I encourage all of you caretakers to throw your
tools and a water bottle in a pack and get out there. Nature cannot be heard by ears
(minds and hearts) that are already full of noise. Take a few moments before you start out
to empty and slow down enough that youll hear the messages when they come, and they will