Welcome! This is a place to share how we celebrate & deepen our relationship to Nature. Here you will find stories, images, & ideas about wilderness, human nature, & soulfulness. Drawing from the experiences of everyday living, the topics on this blog include: forays into the natural world, the writing life, community service, meditation, creativity, grief & loss, inspiration, & whatever else emerges from these. I invite you on this exploration of the wild within & outside of us: the inner/outer landscape.

Friday, February 19, 2021

I Love You

Today we were given four minutes to handwrite a love-letter, my friends and I who gather weekly for compassionate conversation. Here’s mine, unedited:


Dearest Hemlock, 


I love you. 


First, I want to start with apologies:


for calling you by the wrong name for many months, 

for not yet staying for a long time to listen more deeply to you, and

for not having visited you now for a while.


I love you.


I admit that our visiting cougar has distracted me from staying my course along the winding pathways of our shared forest. But I’m working on this and will return soon - 

to you, 

to the forest, 

to the trails – 

cougar or not.


I love you. 


I think of you daily. I also tell my friends and family how much you mean to me.


I love you. 


Your strong bark and steadfast height inspire me to stand tall and to use my own strength and power 

for good, 

for love, 

for peace, 

for interconnection.


I love you. 


And your lovely cones remind me to create grand beauty in this world. 

Then we were told that our writing time was up. So I hastily scribbled an ending:


I love you so very, very much. And I’m really excited to know that I’ll be seeing you again soon…



Love, your kin - Jenn


But I could’ve written so much more, recounting detailed stories of our shared experience:


the four or five altars I have made at the base of Hemlock over the past couple of years – for 

whom I made them, with what natural materials, and why, and how I felt;

the poetry, prayers, meditations, and gratitudes that I have silently - or whispered, or in full 

volume - recited as I stand or sit near, lean against, or press my hands on the bark of 


the tenderness Hemlock showed me as I spilled tears of grief, worry, sadness; 

the request I heard from Hemlock that I: “stay awhile,” “listen,” “sit still”; 

the unusual, beautiful moment of species richness and abundance of birds we witnessed together 

in The Cathedral on that one, late-spring day last year; 

the unusually strong wind that shook Hemlock’s canopy far overhead on another day as it also 

tousled my uncut hair just five feet above ground... 


This list could go on and on. I’m only stopping here for the sake of a blog post that is of read-able length. (And, indeed, some of these stories of Hemlock’s and my shared time together are unfolding in great detail in my current book project.) The ways in which I feel held, supported, cared for - even, by being in relationship with Hemlock over time, are too much for this small piece of writing.  


One of the dozens of gems I’m receiving from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass (a long overdue read) is this: 


“When you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street to a sacred bond.”


This is quite the point of my love letter to Hemlock. I’m expressing my love, but I know and feel how this tree, this being, my beloved Hemlock, is loving me too. 


For months I’ve been discussing with my spiritual ecology intimates, meditating and writing about, exploring and seeking reciprocity of relationship with nonhuman beings – including with Hemlock. Today I found it – in part via the wise words of RWK and in part via my earnest love letter to Hemlock.


My love for Earth, and for Hemlock too, is reciprocated. It is requited. And our relationship is a sacred bond.

All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."