Letter Of Recommendation: Having A Favorite Tree

The first time I ever saw this tree, I stopped, pulled my phone out of my running vest, and took a photo of it. 

It’s not a famous tree, and it's not on a well-known trail. It’s actually on a steep-ish MTB descent that kind of sucks to run down. I was just wandering around that day, checking things out. But I found myself back there again a few months later, and took another photo. I’ve since hiked or run past this tree a dozen or so times, and each time, I pause for a second and try to figure out why I like it so much. 

a) it’s a larch tree
b) it’s by itself
c) it’s situated where the forest around it opens up (nice view)
d) if I were a tree, I feel like this spot would be a great place to be a tree
e) the trail it’s on isn’t that popular, so I kind of assume it’s not appreciated by too many people besides me Last week, my wife sent me the Orion Questionnaire with Ross Gay, and here's how Ross Gay, National Treasure, answered the one that said, "My favorite tree in the world is ..."

This is a ridiculous question, and you know it is, because there’s that mulberry tree, and that fig tree, and that pear tree, and that pawpaw grove, and that persimmon tree, and that cherry tree, and that chokecherry tree, and that unlikely apple tree in the parking lot, and the serviceberry trees on campus (or bushes, whatever) I love, along with all those other trees, and many others I have not mentioned, and I have not yet met, and never will probably, the ghosts of chestnut trees, and the living ones, and hickories and black walnuts (there’s one right over there!), but let me say this sycamore tree right up the street in the cemetery, 100 yards away or so, it’s huge and mottled and like sycamores is slow putting its leaves on and when it does it makes an entirely different climate in its vicinity, on hot days anyway, which, I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but yo!  Also, swifts reside sometimes in the big hole like a wound or an eye or a mouth about thirty feet up or so. I learned this because I saw a human friend looking up into that eye one early summer dusk evening, waiting for the swifts to come out.

He deftly used it as an opportunity to list off his top 13 trees (but also still picked a favorite). 
Last weekend, I was on out on a long run and realized my route would take me pretty close to the tree, so I detoured slightly to pass by it and check in. As I snapped a photo, I thought, “Is this weird?” 

and then, “Is this my favorite tree?” 

And then I thought, sure, why not. This is my favorite tree. The next 10-15 minutes of my run, I thought about other candidates for My Favorite Tree:
the one near Crater Lake
the one near San Antonio I took a photo of the day my nephew was born all the Joshua trees in the Mojave National Preserve, which I suppose aren’t technically trees, and any ponderosa pine that catches the light just right I’m sure I had a favorite tree when I was a kid climbing all over them every day, but that was a while ago, and I haven’t given it a lot of thought as an adult until just this past weekend. So I’ve only had a favorite tree for a few days now, but it’s been good so far, and so have the few dozen minutes I’ve spent thinking about all the other special-to-me trees I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with in my adult life. I’m certainly not going to tell you how to live your life, but: If you take a few minutes to think about your favorite tree(s), that’s just gratitude, really, or appreciation of a thing—which might burn, or get cut down, or die before you do, but it might not, and you might be able to check in on it every year or every few months, and introduce it to a friend of yours (or two), and maybe that’s not a bad way to spend a little bit of your life.

If you enjoyed this piece, please consider supporting my work