I spent time with my friend the sweetgum almost every day up till 4th grade when I moved to a new house. I climbed high into her branches and felt that she spoke to me as the wind blew and watched over me as I read books and swung on the rope that she held up. I went to the sweetgum when I was upset and sat in her branches. She was strong and consistent. I remember crying and hugging my dear tree friend the day we moved out; trees give us humans so much and ask for little in return.
As I grew up I continued to form strong relationships with trees and the forest as a whole, and it paid off. In high school, whirlwinds of emotions clouded my mind and life seemed pointless, but the quiet, steady wisdom of trees consistently brought me back to earth. They reminded me of the wonder of nature and how lucky we are to be a part of it. I am forever thankful for the solace I took in the small stand of oak-pine forest behind my house.
Currently, I still greet trees like old friends, calling them by name whenever possible.
I want to thank them for all the beauty and wonder they add to my life. We now know that trees do communicate with each other through mycorrhizal networks and airborne chemical signals. I think that humans can also communicate with trees, but through the way we treat the gifts nature has given us.
Liquidambar is a senior in college at North Carolina State University studying Animal Science and Plant Biology. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and is a frequent visitor of the southern Appalachian mountains.