These days I’m reading “The Hidden Life Of Trees, Peter Wolhleben, Vancouver,Ca 2016”. Wolhleben began his career as a forester working for a German commercial firm harvesting lumber. Then he switched over to managing a natural forest in Germany and his whole approach to trees changed.
He began seeing trees, not from a human perspective — dollars and cents or how they fit around your homes or on your street—but from their place in the forest before we humans decided what they’re good for.
He finds that trees communicate with one another, among other things. They have a language all their own.They struggle and strategize and unite to form a glorious whole. They’re parents helping their kids and kids helping their parents, well trees help the sick. They acknowledge the universe of air, water, and soil.
We humans can learn from them. Just go out your back door and see, Wolhleben says.
I went out the back door at my sister’s house today and saw, as I sat reading in her backyard, things I never did before. The property line marking her land from her neighbor’s is lined with trees, mostly swamp oak, maple and holly, old and young, closely growing together. Never thought of them before as parents and children, connected at their roots, growing together. They’re better off together, Wolhleben says, families and neighbors, rather than growing in isolation.
A stream runs through her yard and she’s left wild bushes grow along the banks. They won’t get a beauty prize, but I think they may attract a wider variety of pollinators and maybe be a better buffer for the occasional floods from the stream than her neighbors’ well-tended lawns might be.
While I was reading a little leaf drifted down from a tree, bright orange-red instead of dark green. Wolhleben says that deciduous trees react differently to the coming fall. Some hold on to their green hoping to draw in more water before the cold, others shed their leaves sooner, more cautious of the turning season.
I acknowledged a cautious visitor.You never know.
The Book of Psalms has an abundance of references to trees. Before Mr. Wolhleben the ancients learned from them. I’m thinking now it’s our turn. We have to think differently about nature than we do.