It suddenly came to me: ‘This week I will post quotes about trees.’ A TreeHugger article had presented itself in my email —it was about a book to be released in English in September, The Hidden Life of Trees by German forest ranger, Peter Wohlleben. Applying experience and science, he talks about how trees communicate and cooperate with each other. I have no quotes from his book as the English version is not out yet. Instead, here is an example of what scientists are saying about trees from The Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge:
The revelations build by the week: ….. how they speak to one another, warning others downwind that elephants or giraffes are on the prowl, how they mimic the pheromones of predatory insects that are eating their leaves. Every week the insights grow more fantastical—trees seem less and less like monuments and more and more like the world’s appointed governors, ultimately controlling all life on land…but also the key to its survival.
Colin Tudge, The Secret Life of Trees: How they Live, and Why they Matter, 2005, Crown Publishing Group, New York.
A second tree-themed discovery: a recent blog post by Your Nibbled News called ‘Caring for trees the ultimate job–Taking care of the future today‘. It opens with a photo with this caption:
Caring for trees would be the ultimate job for me. This desire has no direct relationship to the biblical Garden of Eden. Trees protect the planet and humanity from imminent disaster. They should be protected, respected, groomed and nurtured. They are this planet’s oldest sentinels. They deserve our care and consideration.
Warmed by these ideas and words, I found two more quotes to feature. In the first, Sylvia Earle, scientist, speaks about the intricate web of life visible to those who have the opportunity, time, and inclination to look.
Look at the bark of a redwood, and you see moss. If you peer beneath the bits and pieces of the moss, you’ll see toads, small insects, a whole host of life that prospers in that miniature environment. A lumberman will look at a forest and see so many board feet of lumber. I see a living city.
Sylvia Earle, American Scientist, 1935-
I have lived in cities most of my life. The house I grew up in had one maple tree in front and one maple tree out back. The whole yard, except the part facing the road, was surrounded by a tall cedar hedge regularly trimmed by my father. Sometimes in the autumn my father took us for walks in the woods; and for three weeks in the summer, I explored the woods near a rented cottage. These were exciting times.
The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.
William Blake, 1757-1827
These words, written so many years ago seem to still reflect the world–there are many people who see the natural world as a backdrop to be utilized and organized by humans. Yet there are many people who care about nature. I believe everyone has the capacity for imagination and experiencing joy in the natural world (and of course, having imagination isn’t necessarily tied to appreciation of trees). I believe that both imagination and connection to nature are desirable human qualities that can flourish or fade away. These potentials can be eroded by pressures of survival, ambition, religious worldviews, and economic philosophies. Whether or not people connect with trees, birds, and so on, is influenced strongly by life experiences and choices from birth onwards.