Make Friends With a Tree

Trees are great friends because they have so many stories to tell and so much to share.

Years ago on a nature hike, a ranger gave us this clever hint for identifying  Douglas-fir trees. Their cones look as if mice are hiding inside “digging fir seeds” and their tail is all you can see. While your tree is still outside, become an explorer and learn your tree’s story.

  • How tall is it? Taller than mom or dad? Can your child reach the top by stretching their arms high?
  • Can you guess how old it is? Take a close look at the rings on the underside of the trunk. What important events happened since the tree was born?
  • Who can wrap their arms all the way around it?
  • Reach inside to the trunk and feel the bark. Is it soft, scratchy, rough? What color is the trunk?
  • Does the tree have needles or leaves? Are needles sticky, sharp or soft? Short or long?  Are they arranged in groups of 2, 3, or even 6 on a branch? Are needles or leaves sturdy or limp?
  • Ponderosa pine

    Does any creature make its home in the tree? How can you tell? Do you see a spider’s web or tiny holes in the bark from a woodpecker’s beak?

  • If you approach a tree that smells like vanilla or butterscotch, then you are looking at a Ponderosa pine.
  • Celebrate it! Give it water. Decorate. Take photos. Write its story.
  • Next times you visit a forest, watch the trees  sway in the wind, reach high for the sun and down into the ground to its roots for nourishment.
  • Explore on your own – what do trees give us besides a shady place to rest?