Every Time Barbra Streisand Mentions Trees in Her Memoir

You're welcome.

Tu Bishvat, the Jewish birthday of the trees, starts at sundown. Here is a list of every time Barbra Streisand, noted Jew, mentions trees in her memoir, “My Name Is Barbra,” presented without commentary. You’re welcome.

1. “I love the color burgundy… probably because Tobey also made me a burgundy sweater with wooden buttons. It was the only thing that set me apart from the other kids at the first camp I was sent to, the summer I had just turned seven. It was a health camp for kids, and I was anemic, so the fresh air was supposed to be good for me. But I was used to the hot, steamy air in Brooklyn, with everybody leaning out their windows because there was no air-conditioning. The country air was so fresh it hurt my lungs (and with all those trees, I actually developed an allergy, which later turned into asthma.” (Chapter 1)

2. “Once I had my songs down, I had a lot of free time. I can’t recall much about Detroit’s cultural sites, but I do remember the racetrack. I would bet two dollars… just picking a horse by instinct. I knew nothing about horses, but I often won! So I’d get six dollars for the two dollars. At least I was making a profit! You could also rent a horse in the park on Belle Isle, and that’s where I learned how to ride. Put it this way… I learned how to sit on a horse while it walked around slowly, occasionally nibbling a few leaves off a tree. It was nice to be a bit closer to the sky.” (Chapter 4)

3. “We moved in August, but I barely had time to arrange our meager bits of furniture before I had to fly back to Los Angeles to perform at the Cocoanut Grove, the famous nightclub in the Ambassador Hotel. There were fake palm trees scattered around the room… left over from Rudolph Valentino’s movie ‘The Sheik,’ apparently… and the whole place was crazy and exotic and fun. It was a big deal to play there.” (Chapter 7)

4. “While I was singing at Harrah’s, Liberace made sure I had a nice house. It was a wood cabin, surrounded by pine trees, right on the lake. It came with a boat, and I was out on the boat with Elliot one afternoon when the phone rang. Marty picked it up. It was Ray Stark, and he told Marty that he had just bought out David Merrick. He was no longer the coproducer of ‘Funny Girl.'” (Chapter 7)

5. “For some reason he had thought it would be a great idea to take me to Esalen, the original New Age retreat. Of course we got lost, and when we finally arrived, it was very late, and the whole place looked deserted. Finally someone showed up and checked us in and then picked up a flashlight to lead us down a dirt path through the trees. The air did not smell like pine. In fact, it stank. I asked, ‘What is that smell?’ and our guide said, ‘Oh, that’s sulfur from the hot springs. Everyone comes to bathe in the water. It’s very healing.’ Clothing was optional. Yuck!” (Chapter 7)

6. “I liked California from the first time I arrived, and I knew someday I’d live there. What’s not to like? The sky was blue, the breeze was warm, and you could pick oranges off the trees.” (Chapter 7)

7. “And Mother Nature was on my side. In a song called ‘Natural Sounds,’ when I sang the line about ‘the rushing sound of wind in the trees,’ the wind actually came up out of nowhere and blew my hair, right on cue.” (Chapter 13)

8. “Africa did offer one unexpected pleasure… being with the Samburu people and singing with the children. And I made friends with one particular woman from the tribe. Even though we couldn’t speak to each other, we still managed to communicate. She showed me how to make an outfit just by ripping pieces of fabric and holding them together with safety pins. She also made her own jewelry out of telephone wire and beads. To do her eye makeup, she broke off a twig from a tree and pulled a thread from her husband’s skirt, to make a kind of Q-tip. Then she found a piece of soft blue rock, spit on it, and rubbed the twig in the color and applied it to her eyelids. I let her put some on my own eyes, which was a big deal for me, because I always do my own makeup!” (Chapter 23)

9. “I had no idea where we were going. I remember that we went through a tunnel and then rode up into a canyon I never knew existed, to this mysterious place dense with old oak trees. We crossed over a stream and the air smelled of wild fennel. It felt as if we were way out in the country, far from civilization, very private.” (Chapter 24)

10. “Originally, there was more to Katie’s speech. She went on to say, ‘In college, I stood under a maple tree selling Loyalist Spain. And you wouldn’t let Jews into your fraternity house. Now you’ve married one, and she’s going to have your baby. We live on the beach in Malibu, California, and that is not where we started.'” (Chapter 24)

11. “[Hubbell] mocks a comment from one of their friends, and when Katie defends her, he says, ‘Katie, the day you die you’ll still be a nice Jewish girl.’ ‘Are you still a nice Gentile boy?’ she asks, taking the conversation in a whole new direction. ‘I never was,’ he replies, and continues, ‘Katie, what’s wrong with us has nothing to do with another girl. Oh, give up. Please.’ ‘I can’t. I hate what you did to your book.’ (That’s more upsetting to her than a one-night stand, which disturbs her but would never break them up.) ‘I hate the picture. I hate those people. I hate the palm trees. I wish it would rain. Oh, I want… I want…'” (Chapter 24)

12. “As we became closer, Jon and I decided to look for a house where we could all live together. And we loved the first house we were shown, out in Malibu. It was very private, at the end of a canyon backing up to the Santa Monica Mountains. I had this vision of my son growing up surrounded by nature… no more tour buses stopping out front with loudspeakers announcing my name… just the murmur of the creek and the rustle of leaves on the three-hundred-year-old oak trees.” (Chapter 26)

13. “All the tacky aluminum doors were remade in wood, with multiple panes of glass. I used the clear leaded glass that came from the ‘Clear Day’ set to frame the front door. I always wanted a great piece of wood for a mantel on the stone fireplace, but Jon and I could never agree on what it should be. The ceilings were so high that we could bring in a couple of huge trees in pots to divide the space, and we added skylights to give them more sun. It was glorious to see the sun pout down through the green leaves, which dappled the light… so when you were inside the house, it still felt as if you were in the midst of nature.” (Chapter 26)

Welcome to Tree Week! In the days surrounding Tu Bishvat 5784, we at Hey Alma are celebrating all things tree and natured-related. Check back in all week for more on the special Jewish connection to our planet.

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