I have been pondering the term “tree hugger.” I’ve never been labeled one personally — the moniker seems reserved for people who have a different relationship with the forest than I do. But being open-minded, and the kind of person who doesn’t like to hold back, instead jumping head-first into anything I do, I wondered if I, too, could become a tree hugger? And so I present to you, my first and quite awkward experience as a tree hugger:
It was a quiet afternoon in the forest. A sprinkling of bird calls stirred up visions of past loves and romances in me. I had recently been wounded by a particularly bitter fern breakup and an ill-conceived deer rendezvous and, I have to admit, I was prowling for love.
The rain may have dampened the forest floor that day, but not my spirits. I felt as if every corner I turned was presenting an opportunity for love. Then, suddenly, there it was: a grandiose spruce towering over the muted canopies. Raindrops seductively moistened the spry, sharp needles of its branches.
“Hey there, beautiful,” I whispered at the imposing vision of supremely sultry barkiness. But no reply came.
I picked a handful of deer droppings and salal and offered it to the tree as a token of my affection, but its attention was elsewhere, somewhere in the clouds perhaps or reminiscing about all of its past friends, now long gone and used for various structural needs.
I inched closer and inhaled deeply its erotic scent of needle and moss, captivated by its slowly swaying branches. I lightly whispered into an old knot hole at its trunk, “You’re kinda’ sexy,” but it was playing hard to get and refused to acknowledge my cajolery. I snuck an arm up the gnarled and rugged trunk and slowly, intently swung my other arm firmly around the base of the great tree.
For a while I hung on, longing for the reciprocated touch of affection. None came.
Minutes turned to hours as I stood there, in full embrace, softly seducing my temptation with words of love, flirtatious amusement and scientific tree-knowledge. But nothing was returned to me. No fleeting touch of amour, no gentle caress of a spruce tree’s “experienced” limbs. Friend-zoned!
It was at this time my wife came around the corner and caught me in the adulterous pose. My embarrassment and shock spread violently across my face as I realized the scene my wife had just walked in on. “It’s okay sweetie! It’s not what it looks like! I’m just trying my hand at being a tree hugger.”
“Well my dear and moronic husband, you’re doing it wrong,” came the stinging rebuke.
Yes, I suppose I was. And I suppose I was expecting something else. An enlightening conversation perhaps, or maybe an innocent tryst in the woods? But whatever I thought I was getting, it wasn’t what I got. What I got was a very displeased (and now suspicious) wife who had caught her simple, yet romantic husband in the midst of an all out arborist affair. Trying to play tree doctor with a tree if you will. And you know what? It wasn’t what I imagined it to be. I learned that much. I also learned that I am apparently not what one would call a “tree hugger.”