A Hat, A Tree, And A Lesson Learned.

Sometimes we get posts in our AST group that provoke a big response. Sometimes we get #insights and #advice prompted by the most unexpected things such as a woolly hat! Leading to a fundamental questioning of how we relate to trees.


We had this post from Maria Gillespiepowell that got 551 likes at the last count...

Visual Storyteller · December 10 at 7:21 PM

"I got taught a lesson in manners today.... I needed a few Holly sprigs for my Winter #solstice garland. I nipped to my local graveyard and it was blowing a gale and raining so I quickly pinched two sprigs without so much as a please or thank you. As I walked away a long branch whipped out from nowhere and pinched my hat straight off my head. Now I know how the tree felt. The branch was jumping about erratically and I couldn't catch my hat. I apologised profusely and thanked the #Holly for it's sprigs and the branch gave me back my hat.!!!! If you look closely you'll see it's not even a Holly branch but came straight out of the middle of the Holly tree 🤔Lesson learnt anyway" 551

44 Comments16 Shares

She then went on to say "I only took 2 small sprigs. Last year I was tempted but didn't, the week after the gardeners went in and gave it a very serious trim..... It's right in the midst of a lot of very large graves so has to be kept in check..... and left all the cuttings in a pile. I asked why they left them and they said for people to make #wreaths. they said as long as I didn't take for commercial reasons I was welcome to take trimmings from any of the large shrubs. X"

· John Toland Always please then thank you.

· Chris Cattigan Just pay respect xx

· Niki Kendall Always ask the tree first! xxx


It was a wholehearted positive response to this post from AST members,

· Cathy Lagerman What a wonderful tale of respect for all living things

· Ali Jones It's sometimes good to be reminded

· Donna Messer Yep agree always ask and thank the tree.


Some peoples' responses were really quite personal, revealing a deep connection with the world around them.

· Penel Eynde LeGrand One of my herb teachers gave me a little song and dance to perform while collecting parts of plants. I looked ridiculous doing it. I suspect she was testing me to see how sincere I was to be her student. Either that, or she was trying to discourage me from study under her. If so, it backfired.


Another member thought it a lovely post to remind us of #respect for trees ...

· Janet Burke Lovely, fun reminder! ❤️😍


· Dawn Eades I am sure I read a book years ago saying when you cut a branch from holly you should always ask the tree's permission first. I will see if I still have the book.


Someone else had a rather more down to earth comment to make on the subject...

· Suzy Davies Rest easy marine. It's just a civilian lass taking some sprigs of holly.


Other members were keen to offer advice about the the best way to take branches from trees.

· Angela Baggott Talk to them they like that.

· Star Thomson Yeah...I'm always careful to ask first before cutting or if I'm giving a bush or tree a much needed trim...I make sure to gently touch the tree and tell it I mean no real harm, but that I'm only giving it a gentle "haircut!" There has been a few times in the past and present, that I could actually "feel/sense" the "panic" in the tree/bush that I began working on, before I learned to gently forewarn them what I was doing to them....



Is nature getting its' own back on us for taking without permission? Richard Davis seemed to think so...

·Richard Davis Bramble’s revenge!


Some posts, such as this hat one, prompt wonderful #tales and we were lucky enough to share in member Jan Coopers reminiscences...

·Jan Cooper "As a child growing up in a wood in the 1940/50’s I was always very superstitious and ritualistic amongst #trees, asking permission and thanking for anything I took from them, for instance taking a large luxurious pussy willow to keep in a match box for a year and sacrificially burying the old one before replacing, using bark and berries to make plant dyes (to dye gathered sheep’s wool from fences to weave into little bags) and always planting tree seeds, sewing little books of maps of where I’d done this, painting a daily diary of a flower, feather tree or something natural I’d found which pleased. Talking to the trees, making cairns of cones, mandalas of leaves and making animal figures from twigs and old string, all sorts of curious habits which felt quite right and natural to me. My parents certainly did not share these ways ( probably too busy sustaining us!) so it was purely instinctive and in retrospect I’m sure these habits were absolutely necessary to maintain my equilibrium, combat loneliness (I spent a lot of time alone running wild from a very early age) and just play! A primordial response of a child growing up amongst trees and allowed to just be."


Sadly it was a bitter sweet memory but served to highlight very well the impact we humans have upon our #environment...

"... it’s just how it was and what is now so good for me is I remember those years very well, the memory is sharper than most things I’ve done, so it’s what I do to drift off to sleep at night, I wander the old property visually (bought by my father from a squatter for £100 in 1944 and called The Coppice) and I revisit the trees and flowers (snowdrops and lent lilies everywhere in the wood) flag iris, ragged robin and marsh orchids in the water meadow. I hate to tell you it’s all gone now, there is a Halfords and a Lidl instead! I think one or two trees must still be there at the back bordering the moor, I hope!

Lidl in Ferndown, Ringwood Rd, (A348), Ferndown BH22 9BB"


AST members care deeply about trees as this comment below shows very clearly,

o Krista Evangeline I sincerely wish my council who own the grave yard had asked the beautiful silver birch if it was ok to chop it down broke my heart. Massacred other trees namely Yew in the grave yard too. Asking permission from trees is how we should function


Meanwhile this bit of #folklore #wisdom was shared from an old book...

· Katie Rowena Underwood I read in a book about forty years ago that you should address the holly tree as Madam and say you "will only take according to my needs and no more", and then thank her . I have done this for the past 39 years to the holly tree in the old graveyard opposite me . By the way ... I need no permission from the dead ...they don't mind!


Maria wasn't the only one to learn a lesson ...

Emma Herdman Wow, that’s a lesson for us all! Thank you for sharing!


Finally, this last comment I think summed up the opinion of many ...

Kintarian Amaru It's important to ask permission first before removing anything from nature. Be it plant matter, crystals, wood or rocks. All these beings are alive, possess consciousness…

Curiously enough it wasn't the only tale involving a hat and it was on the same day too...

· Lee Lee This is the second post today I have seen where a branch has whipped someone's beanie off their head! lol The trees are on the move ........


But this second hat story brought a rather more humorous response from members. You can read about it here....


What do you think?

Should we ask permission from #trees before taking? Perhaps you think its' a step too far in respecting the #naturalworld? Or maybe you agree with others in this article such as Krista Evangeline who said it said it should be a natural thing to do, to ask permission and said it is "how we should function"?


In fact this topic is also discussed here in this article I wrote about the French Declaration of Tree Rights and you can read about it here.


In the run up to #Christmas and all the rampant unthinking consumerism that accompany's it, it is I think, a rather timely reminder about how we need to reassess our relationship to nature and in this respect this tale of the tree and the hat did indeed prompt many to comment. It certainly shed new light on the phrase "give and take".


Whatever our opinions I think perhaps in the light of the negative impact on nature we are currently having we can certainly agree that we need to reassess our relationship with the natural world. If it takes a woolly hat to do so then so be it!


Finally, in the run up to Christmas it is good to remember that it is not always an easy time for some. We champion good mental health in our CommuniTree. If you want more PositiviTree in your life come join us! More good things will be coming in the New Year and will be shared in our newsletters first. I believe that we all have the right to good #mentalhealth and access to #nature which is why AST membership is Free, and always will be.


Thank you for reading and thank you to the tree and to Maria for the Christmas lesson.


Amanda x

PS A gentle reminder, its last posting day soon so if you are still looking for some lovely ethical gifts check out www.jackinthegreen.org raising money for trees.

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