Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Trees Welcome Spring

I feel lucky that I moved into a house with such good trees. The trees in my yard are all native, and they're some of my favorite native trees. In the front we have two Texas ashes (Fraxinus texensis) on either side of the driveway, a cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia) by the living room window, and a live oak (Quercus fusiformis) out in the middle.

The elms and ashes are already leafing out! I love how they look when they first get their leaves. The leaves are all fresh and bright green.

As for the oaks, here's a shot of my next door neighbor's oaks.

That doesn't look very springy, does it? At least, it doesn't if you're not familiar with evergreen oaks. The live oak is an evergreen oak (which is how it got its name) that keeps its leaves all winter, and then loses them in the spring before immediately growing a new set. In my neighborhood, there are dead oak leaves falling everywhere now.

I'm interested in tree mythology and folklore, and oak, ash, and elm is a nice selection of sacred trees. The oak is sacred to many cultures. In European mythology, it is associated with thunder gods such as Thor and Zeus. The Druids also held oaks in high esteem. The world tree of Germanic mythology, Yggdrasil, is sometimes considered to be an ash, though I personally prefer the interpretation that it's a yew (maybe because yews seem more exotic and mysterious to me). In the creation myth, Odin created the first man out of ash and the first woman out of elm, so ashes are considered masculine trees while elms are feminine.

I also have a grove of four cedar elms in the backyard. Besides shading the house quite nicely while still leaving a big open sunny spot for the vegetable garden beyond, I think of this area as being kind of a sacred grove. I'm trying to think of ways I can dress it up a bit and make it even more cozy.

As you can see there's no privacy, which is needed for a good meditation spot. I just have a short chain link fence to separate me from the next door neighbor, who has loud dogs, and there's a semi-busy street beyond. I thought of the idea of growing some kind of vine on the fence, and someone on a pagan homesteading forum suggested I plant some lower growing shrubs or understory trees to form a sort of hedgerow, but I guess it depends on how much I want to invest in it.

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