It’s not the first Monday of the year but it is the first Shout It Out Monday. Woo hoo!
Yeah, a little over the top. Sorry about that.
I’m reading a book called The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. He oversees a forest in Germany that he and others are working to return to an old forest. This, of course, takes a very long time and requires research, skill and foresight as well as patience to create something he might never see. His work is important and his book is full of fascinating information about trees.
In fact, what I am learning is often disturbing and wonderful at the same time. We think of trees as being alive yet inanimate, things, not living beings. Even though all my trees have names and I see them as fellow beings worthy of respect and care, I still gasp frequently while reading the book. I also want to run outside and hug my trees. How could I not when I read something like this:
When trees are really thirsty they begin to scream. If you’re out in the forest, you won’t be able to hear them, because this all takes place at ultrasonic levels. Scientists…recorded the sounds, and this is how they explain them: Vibrations occur in the trunk when the flow of water from the roots to the leaves is interrupted. This is a purely mechanical event and it probably doesn’t mean anything. And yet?
We know how the sounds are produced, and if we were to look through a microscope to examine how humans produce sounds, what we would see wouldn’t be that different: the passage of air down the windpipe causes our vocal cords to vibrate. When I think about the research results, …it seems to me that these vibrations could indeed be much more than just vibrations — they could be cries of thirst. The trees might be screaming out a dire warning to their colleagues that water levels are running low.
Think it sounds far-fetched? This comes in the book after Wohlleben talks about how trees communicate with each other, how they intertwine their roots and act as a community to feed sick or wounded trees, how the stumps of some very old trees long fallen or cut down are still alive after decades because the surrounding trees feed them and care for them.
These are things people who lived in old forests long ago probably knew but couldn’t explain so called them magic or gods. And in our ignorance and will to dominate, we have denied the intimacy we used to have with forests and trees, declared them unfeeling things, and destroyed, and continue to destroy, their communities. The old, wise trees have a lot to teach us if only we would slow down and listen.