Tree Meditation



Today I hugged

a Cottonwood

heart to heart;

we heard each

others pulse.

S/he is more rotund

than I …

a seventeen foot

girth supports elephantine

trunks and branches

that call down

high desert rains.

Bleached surface roots

crack hard pan

in a horizontal run

scenting water

even as West Wind

roars – a thief

stealing precious

drops of moisture.

S/he must find water

to drink or die.

Deep below ground

taproot seeks

serene lakes,


listen for ripples…


Golden buds swell

on bare ranches

sticky with clear sap.

It won’t be long

Before S/he Crowns…

Leaves like scalloped hearts

flutter in late spring


butterflies cooling

tender leaves and

twigs below.


white light

and fiery heat

still Tree’s heartbeat,

stifling Life’s Flow.


Postscript: Anyone who loves trees like I do finds comfort in them during times of distress…

I love this tree’s shaggy bark… I love her shape, I love the little junipers that have sprouted around her feet.

From a naturalist’s point of view I believe that junipers and cottonwoods have a symbiotic relationship, meaning that they exchange nutrients – sugar etc underground. Most research suggests that desert junipers ‘have an intolerance for shade’… I certainly don’t see this around here. I live down by the river and the healthiest looking junipers are interspersed with the cottonwoods who provide them with bountiful shade from intolerable 90 – 100 degree summer heat.

I also include a little story about this particular cottonwood… S/he belongs to my neighbor/friend Bruce. For four years I have asked him to please remove all the rocks, and other debris from around her base so that I could photograph her. Just a couple of weeks ago I went over one afternoon – and there was the tree totally divested of sticks, slabs of stone, and a table. Bruce had done this to surprise me….He also indulged me by taking the photograph of me hugging this old tree. He’s not much for tree hugging.

When I touch her I feel a sense of wonder that such a being exists. And I recall the stories of cultures past and present who have reverenced her…

Turning towards the Tree of Life during times of fear and uncertainty reminds us that all life is a gift…but also that the trees have been around for 400 million years and know how to live sustainably. Humans are suffering now because we have not yet learned…



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