Thursday’s Children March 7, 2013

Inspired by Trees…

A weekly blog hop where writers come together to talk about whatever inspires them. Join us!

A weekly blog hop where writers come together to talk about whatever inspires them. Join us!

There’s no question that I was a tree-worshiping pagan in a former life. Willows, oaks and birches are my favorites. Throughout my life, individual trees have held special significance for me.

First there was the mighty pine tree which supported my childhood tree-house — a double-trunked monster with its bristled head in the clouds and its scaly dragon claws dug into the ground. Its sticky golden blood was virtually impossible to remove from human skin, and somehow I always got some on me. Dirt and pine needles adhered to my skin with the power of super-glue.

Then there was the decayed weeping willow tree in the Boston Public Garden, whose hollow trunk provided privacy and shelter during a super-steamy kiss one drizzly autumn evening. Fond memories of that willow inspired us to get married under a different willow tree two Halloweens later.

Boston Public Garden

During a trying time in my life I made a weekly pilgrimage to a particular oak tree. It lived in a nature reserve on the New Hampshire seacoast. Its gnarled branches and twisted trunk had endured the harsh elements for well over a century. I’d lay my hands on it and close my eyes and try to absorb stillness and strength. That actually works, you should try it sometime. Okay, secret’s out, I’m a tree-worhiping pagan in this life too. Sssshhhh...

One day a few years later, I was working in the yard. A young woman stopped her car and got out. She asked if she could come see our willow tree. The willow was a stately specimen and completely dominated our side yard. As it turned out, her father had planted the tree to mark her birth. She didn’t care to see the house where she’d lived as a child, but she really wanted to visit “her” tree because it was an important part of her story.

Sometimes inspiration can be found literally, in my own front yard.


The slender birch on the left leans against the sturdier one. The larger tree’s dark branch embraces the paler one’s trunk and the embrace itself has actually wounded them both. The scar tissue binds them closer still. (Why yes, I AM mad for metaphors). Their branches mingle as they reach for the sky. Their roots are tangled, like lovers’ legs, under the blanket of snow and earth.

I love this tree couple. They provided inspiration for my first book, in which spirits from the 17th century try to fulfill their thwarted passions through my modern day main characters. Two trees that begin as individuals have hidden interwoven roots. Eventually they meet and become irreversibly joined. They will grow, and eventually die, together.

Do you like trees? Any particular kind? Is there a tree which holds special significance for you?

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