Location: Belmont Lake State Park, Long Island, New York

Belmont Lake State Park, Long Island

Belmont Lake State Park, Long Island

Scott Josephson, an engineer by trade, doesn’t yet consider himself a tree hugger, but says he’s getting closer.

“For a long time, I had heard the term ‘tree hugger’ and knew it was a phrase ascribed to nature lovers. In fact, I used to think it was kind of derogatory and I admire that you have taken it back to literally love nature by wrapping your arms around it,” he said.

In the picture, you will see Scott embracing a tree for the first time, and he clearly liked the experience. Scott grew up in a suburban home on Long Island surrounded by towering trees. Even though almost all of them are gone now, he has fond memories of them — most of which revolve around backyard baseball with his brother or playing catch. “A tree would often mark a base, or a certain play in the game like a ground-rule double,” he remembers. “Sometimes we’d hit the ball over a fence and have to climb it, or run around the corner and search through the neighbor’s overgrown shrubs to recover our only ball.”

Scott said he always felt a spiritual connection to nature, a feeling of being at home in a natural setting — whether it’s a desert or a forest. On a trip to Israel at the age of 16, he planted a sapling. “I think it was either an olive or a fig tree and I always wonder about what it looks like today.”

“Trees give so much to us and we give nothing in return. They provide shade, sustenance, nourishment, sanctuary, and comfort,” he added, which isn’t surprising given that one of his favorite books is “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein.

As a wine and music lover, Scott enjoys listening to “The Dreaming Tree” by Dave Matthews, and drinking the namesake wine, which is quite delicious.

Scott is an avid traveler and has visited 47 of the 50 states of the US. He hopes to hug more trees on his travels in the future. “I’d like to get in the habit of thanking nature and bonding with new trees that I encounter on the road, as well as those familiar, favorite trees that impact my life on a daily basis.”



Location: Riverside Park, New York

Photo by Timothy Jane Graham

I believe we need to hug trees more for what they give us than what we give them. I tune into the energy, texture and anything else that comes up inside me. I also think about the tree. The who, what, where, when, how and why. I offer up a prayer of thanks. I have done this unconsciously for myself as healing work.

I just left Kripalu up in the Berkshire Mountains in Stockbridge, MA.  I am an assistant faculty member at Kripalu.  I assist Alison Shore Gaines who facilitates juice cleansing retreats throughout the year.  I assist twice a year.  My father died in October of 2009.  Four months later in February I helped Alison in a workshop and was grieving the passing of my father. I believe you have to feel it to heal it and my intention on working through his death took the form of adopting a beautiful big Spruce tree. It just spoke to me.  It had the same characteristics as my father. Wise, old, flawed, strong and planted. I would visit him every day and sit under his shade, journal, meditate, cry, laugh and pray.  I would dance. This tree is now a huge part of my life.

The FIRST thing I do every time I drive up the long driveway at Kripalu is stop the car, get out and hug, pray and experience that tree. I always sit with it during my stay. I mentioned it to a guest of the fast last week July 2011 who just lost three family members in 18 months and was a mess. She came back and told me she found three trees together that are now her family.

Mary’s Dad at Kripalu, Massachusetts (next to him is her mom)

Mary Gulivindala is a life and wellness coach at Blue Print Life & Wellness Coaching. She is also a dancer, poet, mother of two boys, a dog, cat and fish. Mary is a firm believer of “You Are Your First And Last Love.” And of course, Mary is a tree hugger.

For more information, please call Mary at 267-505-1779 or visit: