Happy Solstice Everyone!

Bookman had to work late tonight so we didn’t manage a special dinner this evening but we have plans for later in the week that involve a stir fry with garlic scapes from the garden, Yum!

Today seems an appropriate day to share one of my favorite parts of The Wild Shore by Kim Stanley Robinson that I wrote about last week.

In this long scene, our narrator has gone out into the forest alone to escape from the people of his community. He if full of grief and wants to be alone and to forget himself and the traumatic events that recently happened for just a little while. He has always found the woods consoling and this time is no different. He is in the woods at night and imagines that the trees are moving about:

Still I think it may be true that they are a type of nocturnal animal, after all. We tend to forget that in spring they sprout joyously, in the summer they bask in the sun, in winter they suffer bare and cold. Just like us. Except they sleep during the day and come awake at night. So if you want to have much to do with them, night is the time to be out among them.

Our narrator then goes on to muse about different kinds of trees and how they wake up and treat you differently. Eucalyptus trees, he finds, are “friendly and talkative” with a “rising and falling voice that caresses like a hug, or a brushing of the forehead.” But you wouldn’t want to touch or hug one because you’ll get sticky from the gum.

Pine trees, on the other hand, are “forbidding speakers.” When a breeze blows their “quiet whooos are fey” and in a wind their “wild ohhhhhs … can raise the hair on the back of your neck.” But, unlike eucalyptus, pines “feel good to the touch, and you can look at their black silhouettes against the sky forever.”

Redwood trees are especially nice to touch because the bark is split and hairy, “it’s like hugging a bear, or holding onto your ma and crying into her hair.”

I like the voice of a mixed forest, especially pine and oak. When I was a kid and the family would go camping for a long weekend in the mountains a few hour’s drive from our house I loved to sit and listen to the wind through the forest. It always sounded like rushing water to me, and it was so soothing and calming; a shusssssh from the trees and a caress from the breeze on my cheek to say everything is alright.

In the winter where I live now, when the trees are bare, I love their eerie voices when their naked branches clack together and the wind whistles around corners. I don’t feel menaced, but there is caution in the air and an urge to pay extra attention. Am I being warned to be careful and not slip on the ice and snow? Or perhaps they are suggesting I not linger in the cold?

Today when I was out in the garden the trees of the neighborhood were quietly murmuring together, exchanging gossip and enjoying the beautiful day. I am not privy to the secrets of their language, but there was great pleasure in listening to their voices as I knelt on the earth tending the peas and raspberries.