Thursday, August 15, 2019


Good word, eh?  And yet I think it's a fair concern at the moment that biophilia is not universally felt by humankind.  I don't know that all our children are getting a fair shot at falling in the love with the planet.

I'm thinking about this today because our host, Christie at Wondering and Wondering, has tossed out a Poetry Friday theme of TREES.  I find that I have posted often about trees, my poems and those of others, but I found one poem I haven't shared before.  I wrote it when I taught kindergarten and we had our "very own" tree in the schoolyard.  We visited it every month and drew it again and again; this poem is about how sustained relationship with nature changes your view, your insides.

RJ, tree in fall

first tree is
straight brown trunk
green cloud top
faraway bracket of bird

next tree is
straight gray trunk
mass of fluttering leaves
no bird but what is that bug?

now our tree is
cracked gray bark
RJ, tree in spring

looking up we see 150 leaves at least
something with wings dangling down

our maple tree is
cracked gray bark
streaked with greenish moss
three-lobed leaves veined and clustered
above bunches of maple keys

finally [tree] recedes
"our Norway maple"
becomes a bridge 
to <tree>

©Heidi Mordhorst

The kids in these photos finished 5th grade in June and left our school, but last week I ran into RJ (in the orange and grey shirts) at the Y with his father and older sister Lorrilee, whom I also taught.  She told me that her rising 7th grade friends have a group text chat and that they had been recently reminiscing about their "Mighty Minnow Maple Tree" together. 

How's that for warming a teacher's heart? "Arborphilia"!    Thanks to Christie for hosting--head over and climb on up into her tree for a view of this week's poetry.

Your Weekly PSA:  Here's my September 20 Global Climate Strike.  Where's yours? 

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  1. Heidi, teachers who passionately teach their learners are well-loved and make a difference in children's lives. I can see why your heart was warmed. I love the photos of the children drawing while observing their tree.

  2. I love the progression of your students' relationship with "their" tree, and recognize how much teaching went into fostering this relationship. What a gift your students took with them from your classroom! A gift to them and to the world. Their reminiscing about that tree is heart warming indeed!

  3. You nurture biophilia in your students every day. Helps me hold onto hope. Love the progression of the tree drawings in your poem.

  4. Many kids never make it past "first tree is
    straight brown trunk
    green cloud top
    faraway bracket of bird" -- so glad you and your Mighty Minnows take the time to really look. I like the term "maple keys" (we always called them "helicopters" or "whirlybirds" so I missed "maple keys".)

  5. Arborphilia, indeed! What a beautiful thing to give these young students... and now us! I love it. xo

  6. Thank you, Heidi, for introducing me to the word biophilia. Our poems today have some striking similarities, but I like yours better because you wrote it for (with?) your students.

  7. When we posted the daily weather in my first grade, we took a daily picture with a maple tree right outside our door. We used it for seasons, and daily weather comparisons - including snowfall depth. Near it was a fir tree that also got in on the pictures so we could compare the two types each day. It helped in the care for our young trees when they had some ownership or caregiver role.

  8. I love that the persistent sketching of the tree is what creates those sustained relationships that transfer beyond that one tree. (At least we hope the transference happens)

  9. The best! Biophila, arborphilia. I think connecting kids and nature strengthens relationships. Thank you for these.

  10. So positive, so hopeful and so real. Your teaching really does make a difference. Isn't it great when we get to see that? This tree poem pairs perfectly with Catherine's Painting a Tree poem this week. And, together both poems show the importance of the root system in learning...that what's learned previously stays with us. Lovely post, Heidi.

  11. Oh, how I love that your former Minnows reminisce about your Maple! And Biophilia...yup. I've got that. Monarch chrysalis that's on the brink of butterfly is right here beside me so that I maybe won't miss (too much) of the (re)birth.

  12. YES, this is SO true. Our kids think of nature in generic terms because they have so little chance to be out in it learning about it. I LOVE your poem.


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