Love Bites: Take A Leaf

This month's columnist reflects on coniferous trees and their resilience – in memory and in nature

Article by Samar Jamal | 12 Sep 2023
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They stood tall at the side of my first home, in a quiet suburban neighbourhood. Aligned side by side, four Thuja Plicata trees – a type of coniferous tree, also known as confits or cedars. They have straight hazel trunks and their wood is soft and dense. The green leaves grow out like pyramids and have a slight shine to them. 

For me, Thujas are an everlasting memory of home. They are constant in nature; they are evergreen, hardly shedding their leaves during the cold dark winter. Instead, their voluminous shrubs hold the snow and provide shelter from the rain. During the summer their leaves stretch out, and their shrubs grow rich and glow green. These qualities are a testament of their vitality and resilience. 

As a child, I’d tug a few shrubs off, rub them gently between my hands and indulge in their fresh lingering scent. A mixture of mint, limes and pineapple. 

We lived at the house with the Thujas for a decade before moving. Six years after we moved I took a trip to my old home and found that the trees had been cut down. I felt sorrow and frustration seeing the stumps. Sorrow as they represented a passing of time, a final goodbye to the only place that felt like home. The frustration came from the needless act. A chainsaw had cut down these wise old trees in just a few minutes, trees that had bloomed here for decades. 

Almost ten years have passed since I made that trip home. Whenever I pass by a Thuja now I still take a leaf. Its aromas instantly transport me to childhood memories, nestling under them during the rain or hiding behind their large red trunks while playing hide and seek. Their scent is bittersweet now as I’m reminded they are no longer there and neither is home. But there is also sweetness in the memories they hold.