Reader Submission: The Succor of Trees

Rebecca Speer of Encinitas, California, wrote to us recently and included the written piece you see below. "I grew up in Arizona," she says. "My father, D.C. Speer, had a road-building business. I moved with him as he built roads all over the state."

The Succor of Trees
By Rebecca Speer

My childhood trees were Saguaro Cactus, arms rising into intense blue Arizona sky.

Their tough surface warned of puncturing a child’s delicate skin.

The thin strip of shade in the hot layers of air around them was not cool enough for even a skinny child to find comfort.

Around them lived poisonous wildlife: rattlesnakes, clicking wasps, scurrying scorpions, the waddling jeweled Gila Monster, and our pets the Horney Toads who spit blinding blood from their eyes, according to desert children.

These creatures accompanied me via vivid pictures in my mind from looking at my father’s Arizona Highways Magazines.

Still, I left our air-conditioned home for exciting solo adventurous days in the brush. Against expert advice to stand still, I ran from rattlesnakes. No way, I thought.

When I discovered the school library, my heart moved into thick novels. I entered the forests of Narnia, silent and snow-laden. I rode a Black Stallion through wooded paths and was lost in dark, tangled forests, The tall shelves that held those books were, for me, full of magic.

Heart fed, never-the-less my spirit still longed – for what?

I sang to myself a song I heard on the radio adapted from Johnny Mathis:

They say there’s a tree in the forest.
A tree that will give you life,
Great blossoms of white that burst into light
And your love will be true evermore.

Secret answers came to me in the sacred pine forest behind my Grandma Mary’s Flagstaff home. Sitting down on layers of pine needles in silence for hours under those old trees, I touched and wondered at their puzzle-piece bark. Generations of Indians lived among these pines, their whispering wisdom still present, sifted down into my young soul, moistening my faith, refreshing my mind. Saving me.

Photo: Tim Van Den Berg | San Francisco Peaks

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