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You wanna make this girl happy? Skip the jewelry, the fancy dinner, the shopping, the bouquets. I don’t want any of that. Give me an hour with a tree.

Yep, I am one bonafide, since I was born, tree hugger.

It didn’t take long for my husband to figure out that he wouldn’t be able to win me over with traditional romantic gestures. All I really want is time in nature (plus: time with artwork, meaningful conversation, tea, coffee, and time to read and create) and I am a happy camper.

I’m originally from Oregon, so perhaps it’s not surprising (and both of my grandfathers were in the woodworking industry), but for as long as I can remember—and even before—trees have been my favored connection to nature.

I love mountains and streams and beaches and lakes, but there is nothing as beautiful to me as a tree.

I’ve been told that as a toddler, a walk around the block could take a good half hour or so. I absolutely had to stop at every… single… tree… and give it a hug. I would walk up to it, wrap my arms around it, give it a little pat, and tell the tree, very reassuringly, that I loved it.

In early elementary school, I counted the trees on our 50 x 100 foot city lot. There were 47, each with its own colony of birds and spiders and squirrels and ants, and I loved all of them. Each time one had to be eliminated due to disease or a new landscape plan, I would mourn its loss, not understanding how anyone could choose to say goodbye to the beauty of tree.

I love the story of my parents’ very first Christmas tree. It came with roots, and after the holidays, they planted it in the front yard. As a child, it was decent sized. Today it stands at least twice as tall as the house, a beautiful testament to decades of marriage.

One day, it will have to be taken down, so as not to topple in a windstorm, but I hope when it does have to go, it will be replaced by a lovely evergreen descendant.

I’m not sure why I felt so called to hug every tree and tell it that I loved it as a young child. I can’t imagine I’d heard the term “tree hugger,” but perhaps I had and it influenced me.

I loved the way that brightly colored leaves would fall, and crinkle under my feet. I loved acorns and gingko helicopter seeds and chattering squirrels and the color of poisonous berries. I loved that a branch could hold a swing, or offer shade.

As I grew, I loved to climb into the crick of a low-hanging tree with a book, and settle my back against the bark, and read for hours. I smile just thinking about the soft rustle of leaves and dancing shadows.

To this day, there are few things that can capture my attention like a tree. The silhouette of a bare deciduous tree in the wintertime gets me every time. I am terrible at identifying trees—I don’t know bark patterns or leaves, but I notice them. If you see my walk by a tree, and I’m on my own, or meandering with my kids, you still might see me give it a hug. Or take a photo or trace its wrinkles, or whisper my questions about what it’s seen, or simply smile and offer my gratitude for the exchange of air, and the interconnectedness of life. I marvel at root systems that refuse to be confined by gates of concrete, and look up every evening to see how the light strikes the leaves differently with the close of each day.

Often, when I sit down to sketch or doodle, it is a tree that unwittingly comes out. Often when I’m compelled to take a photo, it’s a tree that is calling me. Trees nourish my creative spirit, and so, in this incredible creative digital community, I wanted to offer a view of some of my favorite reasons to relish the analog.

(And by some, I mean just a peek. I have *thousands* of photos of tree and trunks. I eventually had to stop myself from looking through any more to post and call it a day. Fair to say, don’t be surprised if trees continue to make an appearance around here!)

Enjoy.

Please share: what in nature calls to your creative spirit?

(PS: See that giant stump that a fallen tree left behind? It’s tough to tell how big it is in the photo, but for a clue, look to my daughter’s head in the lower right hand corner, and then imagine how many centuries that tree must have stood. Incredible!

PPS: Did you notice what I like to call the Scream Tree? It looks like an Edvard Munch!)

ABOUT A TO Z CHALLENGE

This month, I am writing 26 posts starting with the letters A through Z, along with hundreds of other businesses and bloggers from around the world. I first ran into the A to Z Challenge many, many moons ago (circa 2011), when I was brand new to the online writing world. It was a great way to jumpstart my creative juices, and I had so much fun “meeting” men and women sharing what they love to do.

So when I opened Of Love + Light, I knew the A to Z Challenge would be the perfect complement to Daily Dose: Inspired. Enjoy!

ABOUT OF LOVE + LIGHT

Of Love + Light is a place for uplifting media, creative inspiration, art, nifty creative publications, and storytelling. I also offer editing, creativity coaching, and small business communications planning services. Founded by Alana Garrigues, Of Love + Light is your place to come, relax, feel inspired and loved, and share more of what’s good on this beautiful planet.

Of Love + Light has infinite possibilities, and YOU are a huge part of what this will look like. Want to talk? Send me an email!

“Rise Up with Andra Day” is part of the Daily Dose: Inspired series. Looking for a small something to get you inspired to take on the day? This is the place to come for a photo, a song, a pick-me-up quote, a little slice of happy. At least, these are the things that inspire me!