Top 10 Reasons Trees Make for Best Friends: An Ode to Getting Outside in an Indoor World

Anna Geldert, Managing Editor, Commentary

If you’ve ever had even a single conversation with me, you’ve likely realized I am a huge tree-hugger. In fact, I believe this is already the second or third Breezes article I’ve written where I express my obsession with our arboreal cousins. I can’t help it — trees are simultaneously the most fascinating and the most underappreciated species around. 


Before anyone starts worrying about my sanity, please know that I have people friends, too. I’ve simply found that my relationship with the outdoors has become especially important. Last May, I was joining Zoom classes from my backyard nearly everyday, the walls of my classroom replaced by a leafy canopy of branches above me. This article is not an expression of my personal loneliness, but rather a spotlight featuring some of my favorite non-human companions whom I believe have helped make the craziness of the past year more bearable.


  • Way more interesting than people

Did you know there are over 60,000 tree species currently living on this planet? Within these 60,000, you will find tall and short trees, deciduous and coniferous trees, rainbow-barked trees and weirdly-shaped trees and even exploding trees. If you ever find yourself bored by the repetitive and predictable nature of the human world, try hanging out with some trees. I can guarantee you will be entertained. 


  • Trees are survivalists

If you ever find yourself in need of survival tips, trees are the best creatures to turn to. For one, the number of trees in a certain area is almost always indicative of said area’s survivability. Trees are experts seeking out and utilizing the water, soil and nutrient reserves, so if there are no trees to be found, it’s likely that these reserves are absent or inaccessible. Additionally, photosynthesis is likely the coolest adaptation ever made by life on this planet. No matter how many times we review the process in biology class, it never ceases to amaze me that plants can use literal sunlight to power a reaction that makes food. While we humans are not blessed with these same abilities, we could all do with learning something from the resourcefulness that trees exhibit through this process. Trees teach us that we are always given the resources we need to get by, if we only take the time to search for them. 


  • Climbing, obviously 

If you ever come walking through the woods with me, you’ll find I am always on the lookout for the best climbing trees. If I see one, a temptation to climb up is almost irresistible. There is just something about the nostalgic thrill of climbing a tree, one branch after the other, higher and higher into the leafy canopy that I’ve never felt for anything else.


  • Trees are always there for you

The people in our lives grow distant, move away and pass on, but trees are here to stay. In a physical sense, trees simply do not move. You can return to your house everyday and find the same tree towering in the backyard waiting for you when you arrive. On top of that, I’ve found that trees have the unique ability to comfort me during rough times. If I am stressed or sad for whatever reason, I turn first to look out my window and am often instantly calmed by the sight of the branches. 


  • Trees are not here for the drama

Stereotypical high school friendships thrive off drama: secrets, gossip and rumors roam the halls and mess with the minds of teenagers until they collapse in a pit of angst. While this idea is most often widely generalized and exaggerated, most of us have likely gone through our share of drama during these four years. Trees epitomize the honest, gentle, guiding figure we all want as a companion at our side.  In my personal experience, I’ve found that spending time outdoors is almost meditative. I never have to worry about the stress of school, friends or work; it feels like a return to a simpler life. 


  • Trees are mathematical geniuses 

Trees mimic the repeating fractal patterns that represent a keystone in modern mathematics.  Dozens of mathematicians have dedicated their lives to studying fractals, yet I believe the easiest way to understand them is simply by looking out the window. Examine the way the branches arch upwards towards the sky, branches becoming increasingly shorter in length as you go up. Notice how the thickness of these branches likewise decreases, and note that underground, the trees’ roots are behaving exactly the same way. Most frequently, these branches can actually be converted to an equation that could be used to complete complex mathematical problems, but trees seem to have figured out this formula all on their own.  


  • You can’t catch COVID from a tree

As I mentioned, I’ve been spending much more time outside lately due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like so many of us, I’ve grown distant with some of my friends and have longed to see others but was prevented from doing so in a normal capacity due to health guidelines. In a time when our relationships with other people are strained, I’ve found trees to be a surprising yet nonetheless fulfilling substitute. While it is a good idea to attempt to maintain some kind of digital or distanced connection with our human friends in family, it can’t hurt to boost our serotonin levels by hanging out outside a little more too. 


  • Trees are literally saving the planet

Sure, maybe your human friend recycles or asks for no straw at the restaurant. But are they absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turning it into the oxygen we need to live? Probably not. Trees have a unique ability to combat the climate crisis that we as humans have created. They are essential to our survival on planet Earth, and learning to appreciate this fact could be a game changer when it comes to setting ourselves up for a sustainable future. 


  • Trees are super humble

If we were actually in the habit of comparing ourselves to trees on a regular basis, trees would win everytime, hands down. Appearance-wise they have us beat —  I mean, who can really compete with spring blossoms, fall colors and snow-covered mornings? On top of that, trees have a wide array of talents that we will never be able to match, from photosynthesis to communication with other trees via underground fungal networks. All in all, trees are pretty much the coolest creatures to ever take root on this planet, yet you will never find yourself having to prove yourself to a tree. In fact, I’ve found that more often than not, hanging outside with my tree friends actually helps to boost my confidence. When I step away from the competitiveness of the human world, I realize how pointless comparing myself to others is, and I begin to feel more comfortable with wherever I’m at. 


  • Trees keep you grounded 

Trees are experts at staying rooted in the present. Some might say they can remain steady and down to earth even in tense situations but, puns aside, I believe there is some truth to the idea that the tree mentality is something to aspire to. They represent the simpler life we all find ourselves longing for in the chaos of our everyday routines. Trees have their priorities straightened out, and we could all do with learning from them to figure out what we want to focus our lives on. 


Thus concludes my lengthy and overly enthusiastic explanation as to why trees deserve our appreciation. I hope you have all learned a thing or two from this article, and I encourage you to use this opportunity to get outside more often!