Dear President Trump,

There’s one more thing from yesterday morning to tell you about. I walked in to work from where I parked along the edge of the golf course abutting the VA campus. It’s a public golf course that was built in 1915 and throughout the course, but especially along the edges, there are lots of fairly mature trees. For the first time yesterday I noticed that many of them have incorporated the surrounding chain link fence into themselves. These aren’t the oldest trees but they are probably a good 50 years old and my guess is their parents dropped seeds, some of which took hold in inopportune spots too close to and directly underneath the fence. A few trees of a different species just bowed the fence out and don’t seem to be particularly affected by the proximity, but in most of the trees right up by the fence you can see the chain link pattern raised up in their bark, almost like branded skin. It’s pretty unsettling. I don’t know what happens to the chain link inside the trees, whether the moisture rusts through the metal and the metal breaks down and essentially becoming incorporated into the wood or whether there is still intact chain link in there. As strange and deformed as these trees became growing in and through and around the chain link, they seem healthy and quite resilient.

I’ve walked that way into work at least a hundred times now and have never noticed these trees’ situation before. At first I thought this odd, but then I realized I usually don’t walk that way in the winter because there is no sidewalk and the road is fairly isolated and kind of scary when it’s dark. I’ve only walked there when it’s all green and leafed out and there’s lots of activity. Also, I’m currently reading “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben and am much more curious about trees’ circumstances and health. Still, it’s striking it has taken me so long to see something so strange and visually compelling and it makes me wonder what else I’m missing because I’m distracted or taking my surroundings for granted and just treating them like so much backdrop.

May we be safe to stop and look around slowly.
May we be happy to notice things we’ve passed over before.
May we be attuned to the health of our surroundings.
May we be open and curious about trees, ourselves, and one another.

Tracy Simpson

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