“No one can walk in a road cut through pine woods without being struck by the architectural appearance of the grove, especially in winter when the bareness of the trees shows the low arch of the Saxons. In the woods on a winter’s afternoon one will see as readily the origin of the stained glass window…in the colors of the western sky seen through the bare and crossing branches of the forest.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

With the absence of leaves, the landscape has a barren look to it. It’s easy to ignore our surroundings, to hustle by overwintering trees and shrubs with our chins tucked deep in our coats, hardly seeing, barely noticing. But as we hurriedly yearn for spring, are we missing the trees for the forest? 

Dr. Henry Cloud said, “Structure is essential in building anything that thrives,” and, well — I don’t know about you, but without structure all my proverbial wheels start to fall off. I need systems and organization to hold this whole crazy life together but I don’t often slow down and appreciate the arrangements that make it all work. Taking the time to notice and recognize the structure beyond the being can help us connect with it in a different, perhaps deeper way. 

Observing trees in their birthday suit can help us understand and see them more clearly.  Each tree species has a characteristic crown shape and branch angles. Deeply observe what’s in front of you. Describe the shape of the tree before you out loud. What makes it different from the other trees around it? Is it species related or has it adapted to its environment? Marvel at what’s going on inside all those branches and limbs! How are they prepping for the big spring reveal? 

Next time you’re  out & about on a walk, or in the car, shift your awareness to the bare trees on your periphery. Notice how many branches trees have and how normally hidden under all those leaves we don’t realize just how many limbs a tree contains! Take a step outside and view the trees at dawn or dusk. Watch the branches spread like veins over the horizon, casting long shadows, twigs spiderwebbing their way across the sky.