Enduring Love of Two Forest Trees

by | Love

A nature deva in New Hampshire decided that, in her domain, she would match the rather stern, silent but hardy balsams with the softer, gentler white paper birches. The balsams could help support the birches in the winter, and the birches could help soften the balsams’ stern tendencies.

Balsam and Birch Kissing

I came upon this story, and a loving balsam-birch couple, one warm sunny summer day. I was walking through the woods when I heard them whispering to each other “I love you” – a deeper male voice and a softer female voice. I stopped to watch and listen, and took some photographs. It was clear the birch was soon to die, the balsam was heart-broken at the prospect, and they were professing their enduring love for each other.

The Kiss – Close Up

The deva and I had a very nice conversation about her project and over the course of several visits she showed me many birch and balsam couples, each with a different story. She was most pleased with this couple. Above are photos of them kissing.

At Their Roots


Pulling Away


 I wrote about the different couples in my book Nature Spirits, Spirit Guides and Ghosts. But…what happened next with this particular balsam and birch?

Holding On

Over the next few years, on my summer trips to New Hampshire, I would walk the woodland path and check in with my balsam and birch colleagues. The photos I took over the years are heart-breaking in the degree of love and loss the balsam still felt for the birch, and how hard he worked to just keep her physical presence with him. It was also touching because it showed the profoundly deep and enduring feelings a tree had for another tree. Love is, indeed, universal.

To the left is a photograph taken several years after the first. You can see the distinct face of the balsam, staring lovingly at the face of the birch. You can also see the longing of the balsam, still reaching out to the birch, who is now dead and beginning to pull away as she starts to slide down the hill on which the two stand.

A few years later still – see right – the balsam is attempting to hold his beloved birch close to him, the effort now straining his branches to the point of breaking.

Last year, below, the balsam’s branches had given way and were broken off, from the weight of the birch. The birch was still propped up only because its higher branches had lodged on a tree down the hill. See the photo below.


Below left is what the balsam’s face looks like now. It is stoic, yet it has the softness that comes from loving and suffering the loss of that love. If you look very close – you can see a piece of bark that has the shape of a tear falling from his eye – and he seems to be waving good-bye…

(You can also see how my photographic skills have improved over the years!)

I’ve assembled this photo story in a new section of my atalatoy.com art website. It’s the first story in a new group – a Photo Story section of my gallery.




  1. This love Story is truly one of the most beautiful and soulful stories I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. I cannot thank you enough for opening my eyes to the complex nature of sentient beings. I truly believe all nature beings have emotions and etc. Way back in 1973 I discovered a fantastic book called “The Secret Life of Plants”. It reveals so much about the emotions and sentient qualities of all plant life. My son at age 12 in grade school did experiments with plants using good soil, badsoil, classic music, heavy metal music, tender loving praise, and total disregard and etc. mixing them up in opposite ways and found out quickly that those raised even in bad surroundings that were encouraged and praised did well. Those that were totally ignored in perfect surroundings did not do as well. It was an experiment that helped keep him a loving, tender person that he had been even as a very small child. A very caring person to this day who knows how sentient nature is.

    • What a beautiful story, Bettie. You and your son are so fortunate to be able to share such an enlightened understanding of nature. Early childhood teachings tend to stay deep inside a person as they grow older; a wonderful gift to your son, that he clearly has absorbed into his consciousness, and acts on.


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