“Plants are attuned to one another’s strengths and weaknesses, elegantly giving and taking to attain exquisite balance. There is grace in complexity, in actions cohering, in sum totals.”
Since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by trees. I loved crawling through the limbs of a Weeping Willow with my sister and pretending it was our little kingdom — even making crowns with its bendable branches. And I recall staring with wonder at photos of the Giant Sequoias and Redwoods in California, hoping I might one day be able to stand underneath them one day. (And I did in 2005 and 2015.)
So you might be able to imagine my sadness a few weeks ago when I watched the Ponderosa Pine outside my office fall to the ground.
It wasn’t alone — just one of the many victims of 100+ mph wind gusts through Colorado that day. And it didn’t crash down, but seemingly floated, as if it had been pulled up from its soil and gently placed on the floor next to it. I remember staring with bewilderment for several moments — unsure what I’d actually observed.
How could it not be there anymore? What happened to this friend who gave so much through my window — shade from the summer sun, scaffolding for the snow, a playground for the birds and squirrels. Where was my wonderland?
In her book Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, talks about how trees communicate with each other and the ways in which older trees nurture and care for younger species.
It’s a far deeper and more complex concept than my mind can comprehend. But with that societal structure in mind, it makes me imagine how the surrounding trees felt on that fateful day.
At 25 years, the felled tree wasn’t that old — only 1/20th of its potential life expectancy — a mere baby in the nursery. And so, how had the elder trees nurtured and cared for this little Ponderosa over the years? How had they delivered nutrients through their shared underworld? How had they aided it through sickness? How had they passed along wisdom? And what did they feel when it lied down?
The point here isn’t to find the answers, but to ask the questions — to explore the possibilities and the intricacies within nature.
And the next time you’re off the world wide web and walking amongst the wood wide web — a term taken from Nature magazine — maybe you’ll also take a moment to look at the trees around you. Notice their size, their shape, their roots. Feel them. Listen closely and try to hear them communicate — to you and to each other.
. . .
(Also, stay tuned throughout this year to see the many ways we hope to honor this tree’s existence (pictured above) with the creation arts, crafts, and household goods from its heartwood.)
- ONBEING PODCAST: Forests Are Wired For Wisdom