We already know that they give us fresh air, shelter, toothpicks, yada yada-yada. It might seem like we pay trees plenty of lip service on Earth Day (or the occasional instance we decide to grow an environmental conscience)… but do we really give them enough credit for offering poignant messages so deeply-rooted in morality?
In honour of Tu B’shvat, the holiday which celebrates trees and spring and growth, here’s a list of trees that prove you shouldn’t treat vegetation like dead wood.
The Giving Tree
Let’s start off simple. Like, grade school simple. Shell Silverstein’s famous story is an oldie but a goodie. It taught us how “giving” goes beyond the material reward, and should place greater emphasis on the relationship both giver and receiver share.
It’s also ridiculously cute, and reminds us of wholesome things like mom’s apple pie, or stopping for a rest. We might not have appreciated it as much when we were younger, but so many of us now are probably super psyched to just sit quietly on a stump.
Ents, Lord of the Rings
Curiously enough, Tu B’Shvat lands smack-dab in the dreariness of winter when, let’s be honest, everything around us basically feels dead.
Never fear! The Ents from Lord of the Rings have a really effective way of dealing with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder): when it appears they’ve hit their lowest, these trees launch an all-out assault on the corrupted Isengard, throwing rocks, smashing towers and stomping on stuff.
We’re even ready to overlook how closely it resembles a temper tantrum in favour of the inspiring, big-picture message of, “Never give up hope!”
Groot, Guardians of the Galaxy
If this day is all about celebrating spring and the trees’ untapped potential, then we nominate Groot — who not only rose to the occasion to save all his friends from danger, but whose self sacrifice culminated in a glorious rebirth! He gave us hope for the triumph of good over evil, a follow-up blockbuster sequel, and some of the best looped dance grooves we’ve seen to date! Nothing can give you more spring in your step than that.
Whomping Willow, Harry Potter
Another thing about trees is that most of their greatest superpowers happen below the surface. Like the Whomping Willow, which packs a lot of punch up top, but conceals its most valuable element underground — à la the secret passage to the Shrieking Shack and town of Hogsmeade. It’s the perfect reminder that some of the best magic in this world isn’t always remarkably obvious… but is the type of stuff that’ll put David Blaine out of business. Sorry, dude.
Tree of Souls, Avatar
Okay, this one completely opens up the Pandora’s box of Jewish inferences (see what we did there?). It’s not a far cry to compare James Cameron’s Tree of Souls to our Kabbalistic “Tree of Life.” Without delving too far into the esoteric, our old-school Tree of Life represents a map of creation to which all living beings are intimately connected.
James Cameron, on the other hand, gave us a natural fiber-optic conductor that wirelessly syncs up to all the souls in the universe. If this is any indication of where technology’s heading, we’ll all be sporting those plug-n’-play ponytail hairdos in a couple of years — 2 years, tops.
Truffula, The Lorax
Bet you don’t give trees enough praise for looking after your nutritional needs. Sure, Dr. Seuss’ Lorax universe looks alluring with all the wide eyes and bright smiles — but we’re also pretty sure it’s a different kind of thinly veiled PSA for materialistic consumption. See how the Truffula trees look suspiciously like globs of cotton candy? Clearly the message is that, if you rely too heavily on artificial snacks and don’t regulate your diet, you might just end up forever living in an Andy Warhol hyper-reality on steroids. Eat smart, kids.
Apple Trees, The Wizard of Oz
This one just goes to show that no matter how sweet and adorable you think you are, you still need to mind your manners and do the proper blessings for fruit (“borei pri ha-aitz”) before you decide to help yourself. Dorothy, you’re not in the Garden of Eden anymore.
Tree with Melissa McCarthy, Superbowl Honda Commercial
As Honda aptly put it, it’s hard work to be an “Eco Warrior.” Anyone who gardens could tell you that many of life’s most fruitful endeavors take a lot of time and effort (Melissa McCarthy, included). And even in those days when it’s hard to stay patient and persevere, you have to remember that, if you’re barking up the right tree, it’s a fight worth clinging to.
That, or you can just buy a Kia Niro, and all your problems will be solved. One or the other.
*Featured Photo Cred: Photo by Kristian Eliz | Blog, My Modern Met “10 Fantastic Examples of Street Art Fusing with Nature”