I have always loved trees: now I’ve decided it’s time to embrace that. Literally.

profile magnoliaHi, I’m Susan, a 28-year-old academic, mother, and writer, living in Dunedin, New Zealand.

For the first month of 2018 I’m going to hug a different tree each day, and tell you about it.

Here are three reasons why I want to do this odd thing:


Reason #1 : Self-Care

Trees have always made me feel good. There are strong (scientifically-supported) links between time spent among trees, and well-being, so in many ways this is about starting 2018 with a commitment to self-care. This is especially important for me right now, because alongside the normal pressures of parenting and work, I am preparing to teach a new course that covers some extremely dark material. To counter this, I wanted a project to encourage myself to doing something small, and mindful, and joyful, each and every day.

Reason #2: Story and Memory

An excuse for a tour of many favourite spots from my childhood to now, with personal stories attached, as well a suitable amount of dorky photos of the hug itself. Most of this will be around my home town of Dunedin. It will be nice to indulge myself in revisiting the living markers of many of my memories; especially since memory is richly linked to smell, touch, and other physical senses.

Reason #3: Social Meanings and Histories

Trees can be bear incredible significance for whole groups, not just individuals. They are one of the most potent and universal but also culturally embedded symbols we use to communicate: from the ‘tree of life’, to the Christmas tree, to national trees. They often form an amazing part of local  histories as well; who planted them, what they mark or memorialise, the way human structures shapes around them, and vice versa. I’m a social anthropologist, so this all interests me hugely, and I’ll be throwing in some thoughts on this among the personal reflections.

Reason #4: Science

Trees are are also amazing scientifically-speaking – an incredible example of ecological interconnectedness, resilience, and adaptation. I’ve always wanted to learn a little more about the trees I love, and especially about native NZ trees, so here’s my chance! I might even make friends with some entirely new trees in the process.


In sum, it’s pretty plain to see that trees are awesome, and hopefully that makes me a little less weird for wanting to hug them. If you aren’t convinced yet, then buckle up for 31 days of aboreal romance, and we’ll see if I can’t sway you!