A Tree Experience

Ruskin Park, Denmark Hill, London, SE5

Sitting on a small lump of trunk, under the outspread bare branches of a great big Horse Chestnut tree, I contemplate my surroundings.

A circular carpet of fallen leaves lies beneath the tree. Now that the leaves still attached are few and far between, the branches above me only semi-obscure the clouds beyond – bright white, pale grey, and dark grey, masking some but not all of the pale blue sky.

There is a gentle breeze on my face. The air smells fresh with the flavour of damp earth and leaves. Taking deep breaths into my lungs, relaxing, I listen to the birds chirping in the branches, and the gentle rustling of leaves swaying in the wind, amidst the distant sounds of aeroplanes, ambulances and industrial machinery.

Occasionally the clouds drift apart, and bright sunshine breaks through. Golden yellow, brown, red, purple and orange autumn leaves sparkle, the green grass shines, and I bask in the sun’s warmth.

I had been feeling stressed and frustrated, prior to my encounter with this tree. I had entered the park and been drawn inexplicably towards it. This big, solid, calm, and very grounded tree, deeply rooted there, in the middle of the damp grass, had exerted an almost immediate, soothing influence on me.

How is it possible, I thought, that a tree and a bit of open grassy space can be so relaxing, and so totally exhilarating?

I recommend this to anyone and everyone: find a big tree, and experience it.

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