Slice of Life Story- A Ghostly Experience

It’s a tall and elegant tree which stands on the nature strip (verge) in front of a house four doors down from mine. It appears to stand in a pool of light such is its presence. Its trunk is pale and smooth. It is a tall tree and to take in its full majesty, you have to tilt your head back. It seems somewhat reverential to take such a stance.

Each morning when I walk in the crisp air, I pass this tree and I have developed a ritual. I simply cannot walk past without running my hand over its smooth bark. I pay homage to its natural beauty.

Our family call it the smooth tree. But in fact it is an Australian eucalypt, or gum tree. It’s botanical name is Corymbia dallachiana but it’s commonly known as a Ghost Gum. Ghost gums, are evergreen trees and grows up to 20 metres in height with white to cream and pink-tinged bark, often with brown scales. They are a visually striking tree. It is a tree that begs to be noticed, –a tree that presents as friendly and welcoming to passers by.

It’s hard to avoid eucalypts in Australia. They’re everywhere! No other landscape seems so dominated by a single genus.

They’ve also migrated successfully all around the world. When I spot them in another country I think how far both the eucalypt and I have traveled. I’ve seen them in Turkey and on the coast in Sicily. There is even a eucalypt growing on Alcatraz island! I’ve spotted them in movies as well. California has its share of eucalypts. When I first arrived in the US to live and work, I remember buying a large bunch of eucalyptus leaves at the Grand Army Plaza, market in Park Slope, Brooklyn, just so Vicki and I could hold onto our far away homeland in spirit at least. The pervasive smell brought Australia into our apartment for a while…

I have introduced my tree touching ritual to my grandchildren. Now they can’t walk past the smooth tree without gently running a hand over it. I want them to value natural wonders. I want them to notice the beauty in simple pleasures such as paying homage to a ghost gum. I want them to connect with their world in ways that lift their consciousness way beyond small screen technologies.


  1. I love that you are sharing this ritual with your grandchildren. I have great memories of things like this with my own grandpa, things that I now pass on to my own grandkids. Simple things that tie us to each other

  2. There are some parts of nature that requires you to touch it. I love exploring things by how they feel. I have a very hard time in museums not touching the statues (don't tell). I have gazed at the eucalyptus in California, but now I want to touch it.

  3. My grandson, now 10, moved away to another state this year, & I miss walking with him when he came to visit. We had several things we always did around the neighborhood because I wanted him to learn to 'see' & to value the gifts nature gave us. This touching of the tree you do is such a special thing with your grandchildren, something they'll remember as they grow up. We have sweet gums here in the US, special star-shaped leaves also with smooth bark, but I looked them up & they are in a different family.

  4. Love the description and the informational parts combined together. I found myself thinking of the book, Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel, as I was reading your slice. :)


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