tree hugger

Pecan Tree in Austin, Texas
Pecans in Austin, Texas

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
- Hermann Hesse, from ‘Wandering’

When I was still a child, my maternal grandfather gave me the biggest gift anyone has ever bestowed upon me. He taught me how to love trees. I learned how to respect and appreciate these perennial woody plants through his lessons and his stories, most often as we walked close to the very trees he loved so much. He explained how they provided shade, food, shelter and oxygen to both animals and humans alike, as well as great beauty for anyone who cared to notice. I was also taught that trees served as a very popular building material. Life is rarely without its ironies. He had spent his career as a consultant to lumber mills all over the world, assisting them in achieving maximum yield from their harvested wood. He left out any references to the ancient symbolic use of trees in spirituality and mythology, I suppose figuring that such concepts were beyond the grasp of a six year old girl. As I have grown to be an adult and my relationship with trees has evolved to become more complex, trees are now my grounding, my deity, my unofficial religion and my place of worship. What brought such richness and meaning to Grandpa L. has, in turn, given me the same.

Therefore, it has always seemed nothing short of a miracle for me to see exotic food actually growing on trees....lemons in San Francisco, papayas in Bali, coconuts in Mexico. Such sights always fill me with giddiness and childlike glee.

The grand, sweeping canopy of green that is the tree in Kenneth's backyard in Austin, Texas not only provides shade and inviting habitat for birds and squirrels....it actually grows real, live pecans (see above photos)....with shells thin enough to crack open with the light lean of my heel against the wooden back porch, revealing their soft, fresh nutty flesh which can, in turn, be used to create....

Diane Thompson's Pecan and Arugula Pesto

Pecan & Arugula Pesto

With its bright green colour and peppery flavour, this quick pesto is a great addition to pasta, salad dressing, pizza, bruscetta or sandwiches.

2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh arugula
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor except for the olive oil and puree until smooth. With the food processor still running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until pesto thickens. Yields 2 cups of pesto, which can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container.

A few more tree quotes.....

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.
- Basil

God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, "Ah!"
- Joseph Campbell

And see the peaceful trees extend their myriad leaves in leisured dance—
they bear the weight of sky and cloud upon the fountain of their veins.
- Kathleen Raine, from ‘Envoi’

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees,
then names the streets after them.
- Bill Vaughan

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.
Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.
- Hal Borland, from ‘Countryman: A Summary of Belief’

For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider,
every green tree is far more glorious
than if it were made of gold and silver.
- Martin Luther

A tree never hits an automobile except in self-defense.
- Author Unknown

1 comment:

vegetablej said...

What a moving post and what a wonderful gift from your grandfather.

I love your quotations; the one about suburbia and street names is so so true.

And as soon as I can get my hands on something resembling arugula and pecans I plan to try that very yummy looking pesto. I wonder if rocket might work?

Whoops, just googled arugula and found that it and rocket are the same thing. :)