Trees are an important symbol in every culture. With their branches reaching into the sky, and their roots deep into the earth, trees dwell in three worlds; heaven, earth, and the underworld: uniting above and below. “Trees of Life” and “Trees of Knowledge” appear in Christian as well as Buddhist, pagan, and other religions. Trees and groves of trees are still regarded as sacred in some cultures.
Since trees are so prominent in Man’s spiritual expression, it is no wonder that trees have been a common source of inspiration for artistic expression as well. From ancient Greek and Japanese paintings to Van Gogh’s “Avenue of Poplars”, trees have formed the setting, if not the focal point, of art throughout the ages.
Trees impart a sense of strength, growth, protection, and grandeur. The sight of an ancient, spreading oak tree, or a towering redwood, tends to cause us to humbly reflect on ourselves and our short tenure on the Earth. These concepts have influenced thinkers and artists throughout time.
As a child, I loved to climb trees and play under trees. I can vividly recall several trees which meant a lot to me. There was the “octopus tree” which was a large cottonwood with its roots exposed on one side which resembled an octopus. Another favorite was the “kissing trees”; two trees which stood close together and had grown into each other in one spot. When I received a camera for my tenth birthday, I used my first roll of film to take pictures of these favorite trees.
When we grow up, we need not lose our sense of wonder for trees. We can still be inspired by them. invites us to rekindle that sense of wonder for trees.