Have you ever been overcome by the sudden need to hug a tree when walking by an ancient, smooth skinned, salmon-coloured angophora?
People need trees. They meet the functional needs of hikers by pumping out oxygen, shading the path, and providing shelter from unexpected weather. Trees are helpful foot or handholds when climbing, and are useful way-finding aids (turn left at the scribbly gum).
More than that, there is considerable evidence that walking amongst nature and trees has a healing effect , reducing stress, anxiety and depression, lowering blood pressure, and improving your cognitive ability. The Japanese have a word for it, shinrin-yoku, and hold that forest bathing has therapeutic benefits, including improving your immune response and potentially preventing cancer.
So go ahead, hug that comforting tree. Look around you as you walk, and enjoy the beautiful shapes, colours, scents, leaves and bark textures of our local Australian trees.