No Cars, No People, Just Trees


When we lived in Brooklyn, for many years we were within walking distance of Prospect Park. There was one particular spot in the park, near a small waterfall, where you could imagine you were outside the city. It was in a small ravine and you could see nothing but scraggly trees and sky. I’d go running there a few times a week and always took a break at that spot. Sometimes I’d be the only one there, and I could hear the burbling water, or a nuthatch making its way up a tree. I craved that little bit of peace, and it made me angry when inevitably an airplane jackhammered through the sky overhead, or someone came through talking on their cell phone, their unleashed dog snuffling through the underbrush. 

Now I find myself living near Frick Park in Pittsburgh. It’s big and wild with unpaved paths. Often when I walk there I am alone for stretches. Twice I’ve seen deer. 

Lately I’ve had trouble relaxing. Being home all day with twin babies there is some tightening in my body I can’t shake. I find myself lying in bed at night completely wound up, worrying about things, still in the place physically and mentally where I am all day. 

Last week on a walk in the park I stopped and put my hand on a tree. It was a young tree, cool to the touch, the smooth bark rough in patches. It was like it sucked the stress out of me. I felt calm. On the way home I put my hand on a big London plane tree, but it was on the street and I immediately felt self conscious, worried that I was touched and then felt more stressed. I’m telling you though, trees. Do it when no one’s around. 


16 thoughts on “No Cars, No People, Just Trees

  1. It’s so hard to relax and find real peace for a moment with two itty bitties that are all consuming, but important for you to keep trying! More park time for mom, haha! Great descriptive writing.

  2. One of my coworkers told me he hugs enormous, ancient trees when no one is around. He told me he’s not kooky, but I assured him he need not worry about my perception. As an Oregonian, green remains my favorite color because I find such solace in tall and sturdy trees . . . touching, hugging, just imagining them.

  3. I like to say I’m a city girl (as opposed to a country girl) but I’m really more like a suburb girl. No thanks to the concrete jungle but I like my choice of shopping and activities too. I think where I live is almost perfect as there’s plenty to do in the city but there’s always a park nearby and hiking and lakes are 30-90 minutes away.

    • I do love the city and there are many things I miss about living in New York. But I need nature, too. I don’t think it’s either-or! What makes the city livable (and kind of magic) for me is discovering nature exists even there. Just go to a park. Thanks for visiting!

  4. They have magic. Dont ever let it bother you that someone may think you strange, touching or hanging onto or even hugging a tree. The Chinese (or anyone who practises Tai Chi) understand this very well and seek out trees even in very public places – just being amongst trees is a healing, restorative place to be. Follow what you know to be true and don’t worry about anything else!

    • Yes, and plus you have to do what’s best for your mental health! I don’t know what it is about trees, but we seem to have some sort of symbiotic relationship with them.

  5. I just wanted to agree with you on the lack of relaxing bit. I don’t know if it’s a twin thing or just a new mom thing or what, but I’m meant to be a teacher, interacting with adults and children and being BUSY, and now I’m busy, but just..differently. And some days it’s not so fun, which is how I could relate to you in that way of feeling ansy. Yuck. Too bad you don’t live in CT 🙂

  6. I didn’t realize you were in CT. Yes too bad we don’t live in the place. Would be nice if we could transform the blog community into a physical community 🙂 I know, the stress or tiredness or whatever it is has a different quality. Hard to shake. For me maybe because it’s hard to have any alone time?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s