We read in fairy tales of trees with human faces, trees that can walk, and sometimes talk. If you listen closely you can learn secrets from the hidden life of trees that will help you survive a pandemic.

A White Spruce Forest

We’ve been St Albert residents for over 30 years yet we’d never heard of the White Spruce Forest until two weeks ago. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? Dr. Peter Murphy, a legend among foresters, lived in St Albert, and cared for this special place until his last day of life. While preparing for his funeral, Peter’s children encouraged me to explore “dad’s forest.”

Always ready for a good walk, Jocelyn and I took up their invitation on a cool Saturday morning in November. We love the forest trails near Banff and Lake Louise and had no idea there was such a magical place in our own neighborhood.

This rare, urban first-growth forest falls on the western limits of the city near Ray Gibbon Drive and McKenney Avenue.

Winter Wonderland

It only took us a few seconds to leave the main trail, follow a path of footprints and become completely immersed in the density of the forest. The beauty of the pristine, snow-covered trees is breathtaking.

It’s easy to be transported to C. S. Lewis’ world of Narnia in the white spruce forest.

Discoveries In The Forest

Peter Wohlleben, author of The Hidden Life of Trees suggests that the next time you go for a walk through a forest ask yourself what dramas are being played out? Slow down, breathe deep, and look around. What can you hear? What do you see? How do you feel?

When you walk through the forest pay attention to the quality of the tree trunks, the bizarre root shapes, peculiar growth patterns, and the mossy cushions on bark. Every day in the forest is a day of discovery.

Forest air is the epitome of healthy air. People who want to take a deep breath of fresh air or engage in physical activity in a particularly agreeable atmosphere step out into the forest. There’s every reason to do so. The air truly is considerably cleaner under the trees, because the trees act as huge air filters.

The Resilience of Trees

There are trees we walked past today that predated the 1918 pandemic by over 60 years. Trees are the epitome of resilience, some thriving for thousands of years through pestilence, wars, famine, pandemics, floods, and economic depressions.

Trees communicate by passing electrical impulses through their tissues. They also use the sense of smell and taste for communication.

The most astonishing thing about trees is how social they are. The trees in the forest care for each other, sometimes even going so far as to nourish the stump of a fallen tree for centuries after it was cut down by feeding it sugars and other nutrients and so keeping it alive.

Trees need each other. It takes a forest to create a micro climate suitable for tree growth and sustenance.

Together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderate extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment trees can live to be very old.

Community

Look up into a forest canopy to see how trees grow their branches. A tree will grow its branches out until it encounters the branch tips of a neighboring tree at the same height. It doesn’t grow any wider because the air and better light in this place are already taken. Trees don’t want to take anything away from each other and so they develop sturdy branches only at the outer edges of their crowns.

  • Trees maintain an inner balance.
  • They budget their strength carefully, and they must be economical with energy so that they can meet all their needs. They expend some energy growing.
  • Trees must lengthen their branches and widen the diameter of their trunks to support their increasing weight.
  • They also hold some energy in reserve so that they can react immediately and activate defensive compounds in their leaves and bark if insects or fungi attack.

What can you learn from the hidden life of trees?  Your walk in the woods will never be the same again.

Want to do something magical with your family during COVID? Take a walk in the White Spruce Forest. When you do leave a comment at the bottom of this post and join the conversation.

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Bob Jones

Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 41 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love being a pastor and inspiring others through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, reading, and ball hockey. I'm a fan of the Esks, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

2 Comments

  • Vahen+King says:

    This morning I was reading
    Ephesians 3 and after reading your blog I thought I’d share what I got from this passage
    in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him [that is, our faith gives us sufficient courage to freely 
    and openly approach God through Christ]. 

    The NIV says, 
    In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
    Ephesians 3:12 

    May He grant you out of the riches of His 
    glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].  Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

    HERE ARE A FEW OF MY REFLECTION THOUGHTS
    APPROACH GOD WITH CONFIDENCE
    AND FREEDOM. 
    The more free I am the more confidently I will be in my approach to God. 
    We have access to SO much supernatural power. Yet we get overwhelmed and walk around feeling defeated. When we feel weak, we suffer because we feel depleted, but it’s not that we suffer from lack of power, but because we don’t access the power available to us. 
    So I learn to run to the Lord. Lord I want to go EVEN DEEPER.
     GOD my prayer for us all is that we be SO deeply rooted in your love that we run to you in confidence, but not only when we DESPERATELY need you, but because we DEEPLY love you and want to feel your DEEP love surround us Giving us the BOLDNESS and confidence we need to RISE ABOVE the struggles of life and not get consumed by them. 
    Right now especially in this COVID season 
    there’s never been more heighten awareness of our lack of strength and power, and the overwhelming need of the supernatural power God so longs to give us. And to break it right down..our lives and the lives of others, depend on how we can access that power to ignite this world with hope. 
    Like Paul…
    To me, [though I am] the very least of all the saints (God’s people), this grace [which is undeserved] was graciously given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the good news of the incomprehensible riches of Christ [that spiritual wealth which no one can fully understand], and to make plain [to everyone] the plan of the mystery [regarding the uniting of believing Jews and Gentiles into one body] which [until now] was kept hidden through the ages in [the mind of] God who created all things. So now through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God [in all its countless aspects] might now be made known [revealing the mystery] to the [angelic] rulers and authorities in the heavenly places . This is in accordance with [the terms of] the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,
    Ephesians 3:8‭-‬11 AMP

    LET’S COME BOLDLY TO HIM TODAY! Because there we’ll find ALL that we need. 
    We NEED to be resilient like the trees NOW MORE THAN EVER!

    Blessings
    Vahen

  • Keri says:

    That was a fascinating book to read! So glad that you and Jocelyn learned of this beautiful place and now have a forest reprieve so near.

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