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Do Trees Have Souls? Do We?

Do Trees Have Souls? Do We? March 15, 2016

Deciduous trees in upper Midwest in winter, without leaves standing in snow with bright blue sky. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Photo by Barbara Newhall

A tree with white trunk and peeling bark in winter snow. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Do trees have souls? Does anyone?

Deciduous trees in winter, shorn of their leaves and their greeniness, seem so full of heart and will and intention — despite their barren branches — that I want to say, yes, trees have souls and, therefore, so do we.

My reductionist scientist friends would slap my hands, however, and say, “Get real. Humans are hard-wired to see pattern and cause-and-effect in the things around them; it’s a simple evolutionary survival thing. A tree is just a tree. A person is just a person.”

Maybe so. But why, on a recent winter’s day in the Midwest, did I feel hide-bound to don a pair of borrowed boots and tromp around in a stand of snowed-in trees? It was below-freezing out there, for heaven’s sake.

But I couldn’t help myself. I had to surround myself with that woodsy beauty. I had to get up close with those graceful leafless trees, showing off their true selves.

Is that a survival thing, too?

Tree shadows fall across the snow in a upper Midwestern woods in February. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Photo by Barbara Newhall

Tree bark with green lichen in winter. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Photo by Barbara Newhall

More nature stories at “A Midwestern Flower Garden — Beautifully Dead in the Dead of Winter.” Also, “I’m a Carnivore and I’m OK With That . . . I Think.” Another soul story at “Do Dogs Have Souls? This One Might.”

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