Oppressed by Trees…

Back in 1982, I married a guy (the Good X). He hailed from Delaware and, in the normal course of things, we went to visit his parents.

His mom had a beautiful backyard and garden. The yard was fringed all around by very tall trees. We’d sit outside and talk and after a while, I began to feel very uncomfortable. Everywhere we went were the same very tall trees. I am serious. Literally everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong. I like trees. I like forests and running on narrow forest paths. One of my adventures here was a hike through the Rio Grande National Forest to see the Biggest Tree in the entire, immense forest. My best friend and church is a tree. I am grateful for what trees give us and (honestly) more grateful for their beauty, but that first venture of a woman from the open wild west to the humid, lush, tree-laden east coast?

I was really getting uncomfortable there in Delaware. I didn’t know what was going on, but after a few days I realized that this relentless canopy of trees had given me claustrophobia. I desperately needed to see the horizon. “Jim,” I said, “is there a hill anywhere around here?”

We started with a walk down the street, but there were even MORE trees. Finally we ended up walking to a big bridge over the Delaware River. As I looked over the city and the river, the vast horizon, the weird panic feeling in my chest began to abate. I could see for miles and miles and miles.

A couple of years later, returned from China and living in San Diego, we invited one of Jim’s also newly hired co-workers and his family for dinner. They were from Philadelphia. Doris — the wife — HATED the open wide skies of San Diego. “I don’t care WHERE we live in this place as long as there are TREES!!!!”

She was oppressed by the sky.


30 thoughts on “Oppressed by Trees…

  1. Wow — I thought it was just me! In the 60’s I lived in Seattle. My main complaint there was the amount of rain — it was counted in days there, rather than in inches. But the trees provided greenery, and I loved that. Some 25 or more years later, I visited the city again, and found myself feeling very claustrophobic because of the trees — something I had never before experienced. I think our reactions are strongly related to where and how we learned about the planet and its dimensions!

  2. I find many of my prairie friends feel the exact same way you did. Shortly after we moved to the prairies, my husband took me to the Cypress Hills, and then I breathed a sigh of relief. I have come to love the skies here (still don’t care for the wind), but I feel way more relaxed in a treed environment.

    • It’s definitely whatever we’re used to and whatever environment has made us happy. I remember feeling relief when I first went up to the mountains east of San Diego where the air was thinner. πŸ™‚

  3. Can’t say that any terrain ever leaves me feeling oppressed. Even the urban environment. I love it all.

    I have not been in tropical rain forest or the jungle or tundra or on a glacier or on the high seas for months at a time. I’ve not been in an impoverished urban area for an extended period. I know that being somewhere for a few days can be interesting but a longer stay might get oppressive.

    I cannot say that terrain does not exist that would oppress me. I’ve just never met it.

  4. I live in the very humid area – Indiana. It is flat (the highest point is 1200 ft above sea level) and green. I was never more uncomfortable than when I was in Arizona with the unrelenting moonscape and the dry parched air. I got very excited when we were walking and I saw what I thought was grass – turned out it was Astroturf…. I am fascinated by the mountains but I’d rather view them from a distance since I get very sick at altitudes. I thought I’d die at 10,000 feet. Sparky managed to get out and hike to the very top of Mt. Evans (a 14er) while I laid in the car thinking that the end was near. So I can understand your oppression. It is definitely based on what you are used to.

    • At 10,000 feet MOST people feel something. When I went up Beartooth highway with my aunt and uncle after living in San Diego forever, I got altitude sickness at about 10,000 feet. ❀

    • During a break in an annual sales meeting, 2 Texans and I headed up Pikes Peak — the girl who was driving had obviously never driven a mountain road and the Pikes Peak Road was like a highway compared to some I’ve driven. I have to be careful above about 5,000 feet — when we got to 10,000 feet, I was definitely glad that we’d reached the end of the road, and I warned the other two ladies about the altitude. They didn’t believe me until they walked the 20 feet to the gift shop door, then commented on being dizzy! Going down, I felt better as soon as we got below 10,000 feet again!

      • That was my experience with my family, too, up on Beartooth Highway. I was so embarrassed! “It’s OK, Martha Ann. You’ve had to live at sea level for a long time.” I loved their “had too”. πŸ˜€ The road from Descanso, CA to Julian, CA has sections that are way worse than the Pikes Peak Highway.

        • As do many other roads in the SoCal mountains. I once navigated the road down from Lake Arrowhead to San Bernardino by watching the reflective dots painted on the rocks — the fog was so thick I couldn’t even see the white center line!

          • Oh my god, the San Bernardinos have some doozies. Even the Sunrise Highway up to the Laguna Mountains has some seriously exposed areas. I drove the 79 from I don’t know, Carlsbad back to Descanso in very heavy rain. There were DEEP puddles on the inside curves. Really scary. Drove over the Grapevine just a few hours after they’d opened it following a fire — OH the 8 in the middle of the Cedar Fire when they let people go west for a short time. Fire on both sides of the road AND the median. Colorado has some scary roads, but they don’t have a monopoly on them. I miss California a lot, but you have to do what you have to do and this is certainly not hell .<3

  5. For such a tree hugger, I love those big open skies. I think I would settle into Monte Vista nicely once I got over the altitude sickness. πŸ™‚
    I’m awed by the big trees, but like you, I need space for peace. I’m a heretic to my birthplace but tropical rainforest does not do it for me. Eek. Lucky other people love it because those trees have great lungs.

  6. I lived just outside Cheyenne, Wyoming years ago. Our next door neighbor – who lived a mile away from us, said he absolutely hated being surrounded by lots of trees, because he couldn’t see where he was going. I love to be surrounded by trees, because it is not the destination for me, but the journey through those trees. I have a Sequoia in by backyard that I love to go out and stare up at. It is so stately. I would hug it, if it wasn’t so darn huge.

    • I love trees and once I knew about the effect, it never happened again. I almost took a job in Cheyenne, but they offered it at the last minute. A week before school started. 😦

  7. I can’t live someplace without easy access trees. Just can’t. Maybe a result of growing up outside Seattle. Desert landscapes leave me…cold (plus, I don’t tolerate heat well). And the ocean is too vast and flat. But I do love open skies and long vistas full of interesting terrain. I may have found the perfect combination in Idaho’s mountains – plenty of forests, big valleys between mountain ridges, and forever views when you get above treeline.

    • I love your views. They’ve made me think I should have listened to that guy in Boise who wanted to leave me his house in his will. That just creeped me out some how. My two ventures in Idaho showed me a very very beautiful place.

      • Neither visit involved the guy, in case you wondered. One was west/east through Couer d’Alene to Billings, MT from Seattle, the other was from Billings south to Boise and on to California.

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