A reflection on what grounds us

By Lynda Shadbolt

One thing about a dog is that they love you every morning, whether it is 30 degrees Celsius or negative 30 degrees Celsius. They want your company and are ready to walk in all conditions.
And, so for all the years that we have had a dog, we start our day with a walk. I love it for many reasons, one of which is walking among the trees. I’ve walked the same forest for more than 30 years and the trees are big, quiet, beautiful and still companions. Always good company. One of the interesting things about trees is that we can see their trunks, branches, leaves and critters that all live above the ground. We can see their beauty and magnificence and strength and uniqueness. However, what we can’t see is what lies beneath the surface of the earth, which is the roots of the trees. Without seeing them, we know that there are roots that go down deep and it is these roots that nourish the tree. The tree that we can see is beautiful and healthy because it is fed, supported and grounded by what we cannot see. The roots go deep and can travel quite a distance.

I just started reading a book called Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard. In her book Suzanne talks about the underground lives of trees. She suggests that the trees are communicating with each other through their roots. She goes on to talk about the idea that trees are social, cooperative creatures that connect in their own kind of community. They support each other, share information, mount defences, recognize neighbours, compete and cooperate with each other and they are connected to each other through their roots.
I think about this as I walk these days. I love contemplating the idea that what we can’t see is feeding, nourishing, supporting and promoting growth and well being. Perhaps we are like this as well. We all have disciplines, habits, rituals that are supporting us in our every day lives. We are all unique, and yet at some level we are connected. We are supported by and connected to our neighbours, our friends, our family members, our pets and the beauty that is around us. We are connected in small quiet ways that we may not even realize and yet it makes a difference. I think at this point in the pandemic it is easy for us (for me) to feel alone, separated, disconnected and perhaps sad or angry.

Sometimes I even feel a sense of hopelessness. And then I get up and I go for a walk among the trees. I feel like it is a chance to re-set every morning. I connect with nature and with beauty and with my husband and dog. And I remember that like the trees I have roots that go deep and that are connected and supported in so many ways. I don’t have to understand it all, but instead trust that I am part of a community that loves me. When you do something every day, or on a regular basis, it becomes a habit and these simple habits are what can sustain us in all of the challenges that life brings us. We are incredibly lucky to live in a county where we have so many trees around us. Really, they are the best company in these times.