I introduced Hofgaard as my anchor tree, without getting too much into what I meant by that. This is my (first) attempt to make sense of the term.
A bit of background: this idea — like everything on my path right now — is fairly new to me, and I would not be surprised if all of this changed several times. But, considering my pretty deeply held conviction against people moving willy-nilly into the countryside, it was important to me to find an ‘urban’ way to connect with nature.
The anchor tree, I think, is a part of that urban connection to nature. At least, it is for me.
The idea stems from a simple fact of humanity that I’ve recognized on myself, as well as on a few other people: doing things is hard, if they aren’t connected to concrete actions. I mean, buying more sustainably, being more selective about from what kinds of farms animals come, or even simply ‘recycling more.’ They — just like connecting to nature — are easy things to commit to, because we don’t know what should change.
Does being more careful about where my meat comes from mean I can’t go to my favorite kebab place with my friends? Doesn’t brushing them off mean I’m putting anonymous animals above humans who are intimately important to me? So, I go to the kebab place.
The whole thing would be easier, if there were a place that was just (or almost) as affordable I could suggest as an alternative?
What I’m getting at, is that saying I’m going to do something is easy. Doing it is hard, especially if I don’t have a clear picture of how that looks. I am — we are — after all, creatures of habit.
What’s a concrete step I can take when I resolve to connect to nature? There are lots of half-hearted commitments I could make: I could say I’ll take the kids hiking more, I’ll try to get a walk in every day. Maybe I could say I will try to get in one sunrise per week. The problem is, those are all things that seem to indefinite to me. I wanted to make a concrete change, take positive steps.
And so, I asked Hofgaard to be my anchor tree. Mind you, I don’t know how he feels about it, I only know that nothing made me think that he was refusing. Of course, then I had even less idea than I do now what an anchor tree is.
An anchor tree is my little piece of nature. I could have used my yard, but taking my kids to the yard didn’t seem deliberate enough, and it has to be deliberate. It has to be something I consciously do, when I make it a point to see Hofgaard at least once on each run I go on, going out of my way to get skin-contact on him, saying hello. (I’ve already seen my first ever strange look from someone going through the park where Hofgaard is located.)
It’s only been a little less than a month that I’ve been trying to build a relationship to Hofgaard. There will be more about this.
The sense, though, is that there is a deliberate step I can try to work into my life. I take walks to Hofgaard. Sometimes I bring the kids, once, I introduced my (admittedly longsuffering) wife. Sometimes, when I realize the day is drawing to an end and we’ve chased the kids to bed, but I still have nervous energy, I take a beer and head to see how he’s doing.
In the coming year, I look forward to seeing him through the seasons. Using him, as it were, as a yardstick for the passing of time as I try to get myself into the rhythm of the planet myself. We’ll see. I look forward to learning which birds I can see in him, to pressing a few leaves of his. To finding out if there are squirrels that live in him, if they’re the ‘good’ brown squirrels or the ‘bad’ grey squirrels.
He gives me a place to intend to take my kids, to look for bugs in the grass.
The fact of the matter is, there is so much I don’t know about the nature I live in. I look forward to at least a year of observing Hofgaard and his surroundings. I enjoy being able to get to my tree and feel just a tiny bit better grounded in nature. That’s what an anchor tree is, it’s a tree that anchors me to the planet I live on.