Tree talk - Tree sisters
Author: Jennifer McMillan
Interview with Pollyanna Darling | Tree Sisters
Meet Pollyanna Darling; mother, writer, singer and Community Engagement & Strategist at Tree Sisters. As a first-time participant in National Tree Day, Pollyanna took the time to share her Tree Day experience with us.
Can you tell us about your inspiration for getting involved in Tree Day?
I love trees. Any chance I get I either plant them or encourage others to plant them. National Schools tree day seemed like a brilliant opportunity to involve kids in tree planting, whilst also educating them about how important trees are for our survival and our health. Having the structure of National Tree Day made it easy to bring to the school as an idea. Having the lesson plans helped the teachers. I think it's a fabulous initiative that really supports people to go out into their communities and get trees in the ground.
What was the main highlight?
'It was a glorious example of what can be achieved in a small community.'
The best part of the day for me was the joy the children took in planting their tree, their grins were enormous. One little girl said to me, "I've never planted a tree before!", her eyes sparkled with the joy of it. That makes my heart very happy. The other thing I loved was that the whole community got involved. We had the most amazing help and wisdom from members of our local Landcare group - Eric and Diana. They stepped forward with their knowledge and helped plan out the planting. They sourced the trees and they laid everything out ready for the kids. We had parent helpers at a working bee, preparing the site. We had parents and teachers on the day all mucking in to help. It was a glorious example of what can be achieved in a small community.
Describe how nature makes you feel in three words
Blissful, supported, alive.
What is your favorite native tree and why?
'They've 'seen' and endured so much and yet they seem so constant and strong in their presence.'
How can I choose? There are so many that I love for a myriad reasons. I love the proud majesty of the guardian Bunya pines. I love the weeping beauty of Bottle Brush. I love all the flowering trees for their bird and butterfly attracting qualities. But I guess most of all I love the huge sheltering branches, and cradling roots of a Moreton Bay Fig. There are a few enormous ones where I live. They're so large, you can feel their essence driving past them. They've 'seen' and endured so much and yet they seem so constant and strong in their presence.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about getting involved in National Tree Day?
Do it! It's a marvelous opportunity to engage your community in a deeply satisfying and nourishing activity. People love trees, more than you might think. If you're willing to stand up and say 'let's do this!', others will rally to help and make it happen. You don't need to (nor should you) do it alone. It just needs that one person to put their hand up to coordinate and you're away. It's a beautiful way to come together as a community. It's a great way to show our children what matters.
If you were a tree what species would you be and why?
I've been thinking about this question for weeks! I'm a changeable human being - sometimes fired up and passionate, sometimes quiet and introverted. I'd have to choose several trees to be; Bunya as I feel they are real guardians of place and I feel strongly about caretaking this beautiful planet we live on. Sometimes a great big waterhousia, I love them when they've grown enormous. You might not notice them but they're there, providing dense shade, foliage refuge for birds and insects, and sequestering masses of carbon. And lastly, I'd be native mistletoe, because I like to go and hang out in different places and get a feel for what's happening there!
Think back to when you were a child and tell me a story about your connection with trees.
'Without our trees we are lost. Our children need to learn the importance of caretaking the places where they live, and planting trees is a beautiful and practical way to do that.'
Many of my childhood memories feature trees. I loved climbing them. My earliest memory of a tree was when I was about three years old. I was lying in our back garden in high summer on a warm concrete paver. I can still feel the comfortable heat of it pressing into my belly. My mum grew snap dragon flowers and I loved to make them 'talk' (you squeeze the back of the flower and the front part opens and shuts like a mouth - try it, it's fun). The snap dragons grew under our plum tree. I remember being aware of the presence of the tree - the shimmering of the leaves in the breeze, the cast-off fruits rotting on the ground, their sweet fermenting aroma almost unpleasant. I felt that I was there talking to the snap dragons with the tree. As though we were playing together like companions. I still feel the presence of individual trees. I think we've surrendered much of our connection to place and the living beings that inhabit place on the altar of materialism, money and success. Yet, it's a crucial connection that has the potential to nourish us, educate us, and of course, keep us alive and well. Without our trees we are lost. Our children need to learn the importance of caretaking the places where they live, and planting trees is a beautiful and practical way to do that.
As part of our Tree Talk series we will be interviewing members of our National Tree Day community, if you have a story you would like to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org.