by Natasha Jebens
As children, trees were a world of mystery and wonder. Human imagination would intertwine with the arboreal world so that they were never just trees. They were castles to climb, places to hide, to contemplate, where the fairies and elves held their secret meetings. These trees of our childhood were wise and secretive beings.“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way… As a man is, so he sees.” - William Blake
As a child, I was constantly swept up by the secret lives of the various trees in my garden. Hearing the rustling and swishing around me, as I nestled myself atop a yellowwood (which in my 6-year-old opinion, was the oldest and wisest tree that ever lived), I would sit and listen and wish, with all of my might, that I could understand the secrets they were sharing. I would press my ear against the trunk of my leafy friend as hard as I could, in the hope that I would hear a whisper and gain an understanding of what they were saying. I always assumed that these arboreal beings were sharing secrets and spreading knowledge through their leafy boughs, a silly childish notion, that couldn’t be more correct.
Proven by Peter Wohlleben, my childhood heroes had really been communicating. Through a series of roots and complex fungal networks, trees can warn each other of disease or predator, they can let each other know when it is time to change their seasonal dressings and they can even mail nutrients to a sick comrade; just as one would send soup to a sick friend.
As humans, I can only hope that our communities will grow and take a page out of their leafy books. The interconnectedness of trees is still mysterious to many but trees never fail to be a wonder for all. One must never forget the roles that our arboreal allies play in making our world the kind of place where we want to live.
And so, I implore you to take a step or two, or even a full-blown adventure, into a forest and just stop and listen. Soak in the speckled ground, the whispers all around you, the calmness, and feel the interconnectedness, the community, and the unspoken bond that these giants have to each other and our souls.