He who gets close to a good tree, gets good shade


A is an immigrant from Nayarit and has collected many proverbs throughout their life. They often use proverbs in conversations they have with younger generations. They have collected these proverbs through friends and family members.

The context of this piece was during a graduation party when A was celebrating their granddaughter’s graduation from college and told her a proverb to guide her in entering college.


A: “Bueno mija, te voy a decir algo que me dijo mi mamá cuando era joven y es lo que le dije a tu mamá y a tus tíos cuando eran jóvenes también…Al que a buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra le cobija”

Me: ¿Se supone que somos el árbol?

A: Tú no eres el árbol, pero sí eres la que lo busca. En esta vida, es tu responsabilidad encontrar un buen trozo de sombra de un buen árbol que te ayude en la vida. Tus padres no estarán aquí para siempre, así que tienes que aprender estas habilidades por ti mismo”

// Translation

A: “Well mija, I’m going to tell you something my mom told me when I was young and it’s what I told your mom and your uncles when they were young as well…’He who gets close to a good tree is sheltered by good shade’”

Me: “So are we supposed to be the tree?”

A: You are not the tree, but you are the one looking for it. In this life, it is your responsibility to find a good piece of shade from a good tree to help you in life. Your parents won’t be here forever, so you have to learn these skills on your own.


Proverbs are often used within the Mexican cultures and are typically called “dichos.” Dichos are meant to be sayings that are filled with advice and are meant to teach a person a lesson. This Mexican proverb is about the specific people in a person’s life. The tree in this proverb is meant to symbolize the people that one chooses to surround themselves with.  The shade is meant to symbolize the relationship one has with others, this could be friends or family members. A sturdy, reliable tree will always give good shade, but fickle tress will never guarantee shade to someone. If a person surrounds themselves with trustworthy people that they can rely on and if the form a good relationship with them then they well progress in life. The proverb dictates that if one surrounds themselves with bad influences and irresponsible people then their life will be negatively influenced as well. This proverb is meant to advise someone to keep a skilled, well-grounded person by them so that they themselves can benefit from the experience.