Terence Krista: Tree TV

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Relief from stress may reside just outside your window. Terence Krista has this Perspective.

The writer Bill Hayes once described living in a small apartment in New York City. His partner of many years had recently died and he found unexpected solace in a view of trees outside one of his windows. They were not stately oaks or picturesque maples, but Ailanthus altissima, a tree originally from China, now considered an invasive species. These weedy interlopers flourish throughout New York wherever they can gain a foothold. Nonetheless, these nondescript trees provided a profound healing to Mr. Hayes. He spent hours watching them as they either struggled or flourished, depending on the weather or season. Wind and snow threatened to undue them, yet they persevered, even thrived. He dubbed those hours and days of passive observation, Tree TV.

Science has shown we derive health benefits from trees simply by looking at them. Patients recuperating from major surgery often recover faster in a hospital room that has a view of trees. Research indicates the number of street trees in a neighborhood has a direct effect on how healthy people feel. More trees equate into an enhanced feeling of well-being. The Japanese engage in "shinrin yoku," or "forest bathing." They believe walking among trees improves health and brings about a healing peace of mind.

After reading Mr. Hayes’ essay, I decided to give Tree TV a go. From the window of my back bedroom, I can see several mulberry trees in my neighbor’s backyard. After returning home from a busy day of work, I would sit and watch those mulberry trees. In the late afternoon breezes, they transformed into magical beings. I would see faces, animals, strange phantasmagorical beings appear and disappear in the swaying branches. The stresses and strains of the day evaporated as I focused on the mesmerizing dance between leaves and air. I was hooked and have since become a regular viewer of Tree TV. No matter the time of day or season, trees are always there, waiting to offer up their healing balm. All that is required is our attention.

With a Perspective, I’m Terence Krista.


Terence Krista is a retired librarian living in Richmond.