Tree of Life



Have you ever thought about how amazing trees are?

I know you’re going to think I’ve lost my mind but I’m starting to get the feeling that spending time with trees might be the key to greatness.

Percy Shaw is the man who invented “cat’s eyes”, the reflectors you see at night in the road that must have saved countless lives. On Youtube I watched a documentary about Percy from 1968. At one point they show his factory in Halifax. Sticking out of a hole in the roof, you see the top branches of a tree. The factory was built around the tree. Alan Whicker’s narration explains, “…Sentimental as any no-nonsense Yorkshireman, he made sure, when he was boss, that the woodmen spared the sycamore he climbed as a child”. Percy’s sycamore is not the only tree that was important to historical pioneers.

The orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire has a special apple tree. In 1666, an apple fell from it and made Isaac Newton ask the question; Why do apples always fall straight down? That apple tree gave Newton the inspiration for his work and helped him become one of the most influential scientists of all time. Without Newton’s work on gravity and his laws of motion, we would never have been able to fly to the moon.

Another tree plays a part in man’s conquest of space. Robert Goddard was an American engineer, professor, physicist and inventor. He built the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket.

With his team, he launched 34 rockets between 1926 and 1941. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is named after him.

He grew up in Boston and at the age of 17, on October 19, 1899, he climbed a cherry tree. He was transfixed by the sky. Later he wrote, “On this day I climbed a tall cherry tree at the back of the barn and as I looked toward the fields at the east, I imagined how wonderful it would be to make some device which had the possibility of ascending to Mars”. For the rest of his life Goddard called October 19, “Anniversary Day”.

He moved his rocket testing equipment to New Mexico and would go back to Boston and visit the cherry tree and wrote about it in his journal:

“October 19th, 1927 – Got rocket weighed and ready in the afternoon. Stopped at cherry tree at 6pm”.

“October 19th 1928 – Took out trailer to farm, with Sachs. Went out to cherry tree”.

“October 19th 1932 – Worked on flow patterns in afternoon. Went to cherry tree – Anniversary Day”.

In the autumn of 1938, Goddard got a letter from a friend in Massachusetts telling him that the cherry tree had been uprooted on a nor’easter. In his journal that night, he wrote, “Cherry tree down – have to carry on alone”.

Percy Shaw, Newton and Goddard’s connection to trees got me thinking about how important trees might be. Buddha reached enlightenment as he sat and meditated under a tree. Why do we decorate a tree at Christmas?

Do trees have a connection to the universe? They’re directly connected to the earth through their roots, they interact with the atmosphere through their branches and their leaves absorb energy from the sun that has traveled millions of miles through space. Do trees communicate with the universe? If you spend time with them, is inspiration one of their fruits. Does spending time with trees bring good luck?

It would explain why we say, touch wood!

Craic on!

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