Last year, it was discovered that 15,000 native oaks had been ripped from the Paso Robles countryside by Justin Winery, in order to make way for more vineyard. As this news unfolded, I, who have worked at getting our county to adopt a native tree ordinance for the last 16 years, found myself grieving deeply over this unprecedented loss.
I used to feel like it was hard to explain to someone that trees are my family. It made me self-conscious to say that when I am inside a fairy ring of redwoods, the whole world around me vibrates with magic, or that when I am hiking in oak woodland I feel safe and cared for, that it is hard for me to leave the embrace of Nature because when I am there, I feel I am Home.
More and more published scientific work is coming out to provide evidence for how I feel, however, bringing the intellectual community in line with what I intuitively know. I know I feel good when I am with trees, and I know that human beings co-evolved with trees. So I don’t need anyone to write an article like the one in the Washington Post to know it is true, but its presence is a good thing because other people might need that validation.
The Heart Math Institute has been funding this project about tree interconnectivity and the intelligence of trees. Human beings seem to think that we are supreme in all forms of intelligence, but this isn’t so. We use a very limited amount of our brains and have only recently begun to understand how the mind works, not to mention that we strongly prefer certain senses over others when it comes to communication. Can a human pile hundreds of babies on her back and carry them all around without having one jump off and run away before the signal is given? Can a human have a conversation underwater using clicks and echoes?
The examples go on and on. Humans like to put themselves at the top of the power “pyramid” at the continued expense of the Earth and creatures around us – so it is no surprise that people not only scoff at others who believe trees might be sentient beings, but have a history of murdering those who practice techniques in alignment with such beliefs. Thus, I have, over the years, just kept my mouth shut when it came to explaining how I feel about trees.
For the Autumn Equinox, I was invited to join the TreeSisters of the Central Coast: The Central Coast Live Oaks. The moment I read the invitation I knew I had to go.
“Our local Tree Sisters Grove, Central Coast Live Oaks is hosting an equinox gathering to celebrate balance and beauty. We are gathering to celebrate the planting of over 1 million trees in the tropics by Tree Sisters & their reforestation partners.
Join us to honor our collective love of the trees and the Earth, as well as to acknowledge our grief.
Music, food, and beautiful trees. We will be set up near the Mariposa area.
Bring refreshments, chair, blankets, and instruments. There is no cost to attend.
Our local Grove is intended to awaken us to our deep roots as embodiments of the Feminine Principle and to support women’s personal empowerment and rewilding. It is intended to awaken awareness of the needs to TreeSisters reforesting projects and to raise funds for those projects.
It is intended to be: A regular gathering of two or more women • A gathering of women committed to embodying the TreeSisters Invitation to help make it normal for everyone to give back to the planet by funding reforestation in the Tropics • A gathering of women in which the sacred center of the circle is nurturing and tending to Life by offering and sharing our time, talents, and treasure.”
Every bit of this spoke to me, so although I only knew one person in attendance, I went. And there in the gathering, I met my Sisters. My Tree Tribe. The people to whom I needed no explanation. They already knew me. They already felt the same way. They were grieving too. And we all wanted to do something. I left with the powerful realization that there is no longer any need for me to waste my energy and time in explanation. The people who understand do not need the words, and if they understand, they, too, will already be acting. It is just time for action.
And so I joined TreeSisters, an international organization dedicated to planting more trees. Last year they planted a million trees. This year they aim to plant a billion. A billion trees.
This is the kind of action I am talking about.
“What would happen if all the world’s women stood up together and said, ‘You know what? It’s time to do things differently, so we will. Not because we’re angry or because we’ve got something to prove but because we’ve got something to give.'” Clare Dubois Founder TreeSisters: women seeding change
I have a legacy valley oak in my backyard. Thirteen years ago, I let one of her sprouted acorns take hold in her understory with the understanding and belief that if the mother oak were to die in my lifetime I would be very sad and her replacement would take decades to mature. So many of her saplings must be removed because on my <1/4 acre downtown lot, they are too close to the house to be safe. I now have three of these young saplings along my fence line: the next generation of giant valley oaks. The acorns that litter my yard every fall have been collected by the hundreds for use by my family as food. We grind the acorns into flour after leaching the tannins out, and we have shared this technique with our local schools. Acorn tortillas are a hit with melted butter!
After Justin Winery destroyed the land in my home community, I began collecting the winter-rain-sprouted acorns in earnest. I plant them in tubes which will protect their long taproot as well as their small sprout. The tubes can be planted directly into the ground but the saplings must be watered, protected, and cared for until they are about 5 years old.
I am a restorer. I give part of my business earnings to TreeSisters every month, and I am dedicated to planting as many trees at home as I can. If you or someone you know has a need for valley oak saplings, please contact me. Cost: a promise and commitment to caring for the saplings you plant so they can mature and grow strong. firstname.lastname@example.org