"Hello, tree!" said the child.
What might seem like an innocent way of greeting their surroundings is more insightful than we may realize. In buzzing about our days between lunch-packing, drop-offs, work emails and music lessons, it is easy to forget the relationships around us. However, when we slow down and listen to this child's greeting of a non-human neighbour, we are reminded of the larger web of relationships in which humans belong.
The relationship to this place builds moment to moment and season to season. What was first a big unknown forest at the Nordic Centre for the children is gradually becoming "the stuck hill", "lion's den", "monster log" or a favourite hiding spot; we race down the hill to see tracks left by our animal neighbours such as Chippy and Mule Deer. Over time, these experiences deepen a connection with this place. When children are more connected to the Natural World, they come to understand a sense of belonging within a larger community; when children (and adults!) sense that they belong, they become more fully alive and inspired to share their gifts.
Although the trees might not respond to our greeting with an audible"hello", their stomata (tiny pores on the underside of leaves and needles that open to 'inhale' carbon dioxide necessary for photosynthesis) are certainly inhaling our exhalations and remind us of the incredible network of intelligence and relationships that we integral to. So, next time you feel the world rushing by and the schedule tightening, try greeting your neighbourhood tree with a friendly, "hello" and let us know the conversation that follows :)
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It is said that stories live on the wind and those who are aware and whose senses are alert, can catch the story that needs to be told in that moment.