Column: A love letter to a tree


Photo credit: Norah Adler

While LA foliage is not as well known as in other parts of the country, the warm weather and clear skies makes for a perfect viewing of the changing colors. Taking a stroll after class is a great way to reduce screen time and appreciate our surrounding nature.

By Norah Adler, Columnist

Walking has been my quarantine cure. Every day I walk up 12 blocks and then down 12 blocks. Sometimes I listen to podcasts, other times I listen to music. Some days I won’t listen to anything, just the crunch of leaves beneath my feet and the wind whistling in my ears. 

I recently lost a friend—amongst the stress of senior year and the world, his death was surprising and tragic. Some days I want to melt into the floor and cry, but every day, no matter how I’m feeling, I go on my walk. My walks are there for me; they allow me to think without boundaries, be silent without loneliness. 

The leaves have started to fall off the trees. They change from a vibrant green to a fiery red, making the sky look like there are little flames everywhere. And finally, when the red has just started to get too red, the leaves fall off the tree and float gently to the ground. Trees make me feel like the world is going to be okay. Trees, just like people, live and die, decomposing into the soil. 

At my friend’s memorial service, which had 200 people on a Zoom, the officiant said we must go through pain before reaching joy, and we do this through finding meaning. My walks and my trees give me meaning. They have withstood the test of time, endured humanities cruel treatment, but here they still are. 

Trees are magic, literally. Studies have found that people who go on walks for 90 minutes in a natural setting compared with an urban setting have less brain activity in their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain “defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.” Trees can help fight depression and increase oxytocin levels, which is a hormone that makes us feel calm and emotionally bonded. 

Let me give you some unsolicited advice. First, take a walk. Second, try walking alone. No headphones, no siblings, just you and the trees. Feel your Zoom headache go away, squint your eyes behind your mask to replace a smile towards your neighbor. You’ll start to notice the little things, like the older couple riding their tandem bike every day at the same time. The little boy getting home from school each day and then flying his paper plane around his yard, making a spurring noise. The sun slowly sinking into the ocean, covering LA in darkness. 

Our lives are full of change, now more than ever, but it’s the little moments that I choose to preserve and the consistencies — the trees and my walks — I choose to remember.