Ever wonder why people say “touch wood,” or knock on wood for good luck?

When travelling in Australia last year, I came upon the “wishing tree” in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. According to the legend, in earlier times people believed certain trees contained spirits and that you could make a wish by touching them or walking around them three times forward then three times backward. That’s where the expression “touch wood” originated and the belief that some trees have magical powers.

The Wishing Tree in Sydney

Who knew?

I’m not sure if knocking on wood will grant my wishes, but I do appreciate the magic of trees to provide beauty, good energy, clean air and a sense of grounding to our concrete urban environments.

I am surrounded by trees – touch wood – and this week I’ve really been noticing them.

That’s because the big old ash trees that usually stand firm on my riverbank have been lingering in a few feet of floodwater for weeks, and I’m wondering if they’ll survive, yet they always do.

Elsewhere tiny buds are starting to form on naked branches and, at last, my neighborhood will soon transform to a leafy green haven.

There are all kinds of nature lovers, and flora and fauna to fit every personality, but give me the scent of pine, a fine fir, or a towering elm to wrap my arms around.

Yup, I’m a tree hugger, a fan of the forest and wild about the woods. Time among the trees, like anywhere in nature, gives me energy and makes me feel good.

I live in an older part of Winnipeg where trees and natural bushes have been wisely maintained even as housing developments have expanded, and the tree-lined streets are a sharp contrast to many of the stark new suburbs.

Trees are good for our landscapes and good for our souls. They are symbols of what a small seed and deep roots can bring to fruition, with time, patience and a little nurturing. From tiny acorns great oaks grow; from a seed of an idea big things happen.

Trees remind us that great accomplishments often begin with a few thoughts and deliberate actions; they may take months or years to mature, but once firmly rooted they can withstand many storms and every season.

And that is the real magic and wisdom of the woods.

Author's Bio: 

I’m a girl from the Canadian prairies who likes wide-open spaces, fresh ideas, a great story, and inspiring environments, buildings and art of all kinds. I have written feature stories about architecture, urban, rural and lakeside living, cool neighbourhoods, and everything from business to pleasure (tourism and travel).

I believe that powerful writing, too, can link the artistic with the practical.

My feature writing has appeared in: Ottawa Citizen, Winnipeg Free Press, The Western Producer, The Cottager, Manitoba Business Magazine, Manitoba’s Northern Experience, Home & City, Manitoba Gardener, Ciao and up! (WestJet’s magazine).

Barbara Edie