Sit down. Shut up. Pay attention. Repeat, hundreds of times over.

I found that trees are full of sound. Wind reveals the architecture of branches and leaves, and every tree has its own wind sound, emerging from the particularities of its physiology. For example, the Ponderosa pine trees in Colorado sound different from the same species in California. Each has needles adapted to the local environment, so each sounds different when the wind blows. Broad-leaves trees are likewise diverse in their voices. City trees have rumbles of buses and trains running through them, changing the form of their wood. Birds sing from branches and insects gnaw on inner wood. Then there are tree sounds that are too high for our ears, but by listening with sensitive microphones I heard water pulsing through branches and ultrasonic clicks of distress in drought-stricken twigs. These sounds combined with the voices of market vendors working in the trees’ shade, birds singing amid traffic noise, and surf sucking at palm roots on an eroding beach. Sound is a great way into tree lives: it passes around and through solid barriers, revealing what our eyes cannot see.

~ David George Haskell, in an interview by Caspar Henderson titled: David George Haskell recommends the best books on Trees (fivebooks.com, July 13, 2017)


Notes:

  • Other notable statements in this interview by David George Haskell: “Smelling the soil, talking to other people, holding an acorn in your hand, coming to know the sounds of birds and trees: these have great power once we wake to them, partly because they are such multi-sensory activities, engaging mind and emotion… (Yet) Our modern dependence on trees is mostly hidden from our senses. We don’t hear the rain passing through forest canopies on its way to the reservoir. We don’t smell the wood pellets and coal chunks that power our computers and homes. The wood that frames our houses, holds up our furniture, and gives us paper arrives with signs of its ecological history purged. So we imagine that we’ve transcended our ancestors’ close relationship with trees. But this is illusion. There is no good future for Homo sapiens without forests. Yet forests are in crisis. We live in an age of great diminishment. In just the first dozen years of this millennium, 2.3 million square kilometres of forest were lost – cut, burned, drowned, desertified – yet only 0.8 million regrew or were replanted.
  • Photo: François Vigneron with Four in a Square (via Newthom)

 

Comments

  1. Nan Morrissette says:

    This is just incredibly beautiful. As with several other posts on your delightful blog, I am taking the liberty to share it.
    I cannot tell you how deeply connected to trees I have always felt. They have such a comforting and protective presence, they are so powerful, they offer themselves as home to so many different species, and yet they are incredibly vulnerable to humans and their determined destruction.
    Thank you again.
    Nan Heldenbrand Morrissette
    Maine

    Like

  2. Thank you for sharing this David. It brings home the connection we have always had with trees and nature… and how we must be stewards for our future.
    Today I will pay close attention to the sounds the trees around me make. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To think of twigs signaling distress, breaks my heart…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on O LADO ESCURO DA LUA.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The title of your article is one my wife issues in my direction every day.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. i have been spending a lot of time with the trees lately, and know this to be true. beautiful –

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love all the responses so far (and to come, I am sure), and am always amazed you know just what we all need to hear. There is a line of pine trees running East to West near my house, and I love to sit on the deck and listen to them sing. Different winds bring different songs. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love how you make us stop and think every day, David.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. David, talking with the trees and hearing their unique voices = ❤ ❤ . Cher xo

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The line that caught you and Mimi is the one that pierced me as well. We are blessed with a bounty of trees here in New Hampshire, but of late a number of folks in our neighborhood have been clear cutting their yards, taking down all of these beautiful, old trees to leave their homes exposed on a patch of land. It makes me physically ill when I see the loggers pulling in…I feel as though I am witnessing a crime, an assault that will not easily be forgotten, or forgiven…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having been raised in British Columbia, I understand the economic need to harvest. Methods have evolved to avoid large clear cuts and replanting is required. Yet, I recall several years back, up high on a look-out, looking down on a clear cut patch in the forest – a scar that only humans can inflict.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on RULE13 Learning.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Christie says:

    My heart is blessed by and at the same time aches,for the trees…the imprint they have made on this girls life, describable…I am Privileged to have seen Trillions and I mean Trillions of Magnificent Trees in my life…I have favorite trees in my enclave and around town, the special Trees along the river, the memory of my first kiss ever, so sweet, we were standing under a Tree, the Maples we’d climb as children sitting on the limbs, whisper stories, giggling & spying on those who walked past (there were six of us so we had to split ourselves between the two Maples, that stood side by side) ,unaware of our presence above, climbing to high in the old Royal Ann Cherry tree and being stuck, trees running as our massive Willow is struck by lightening and starts on fire, watching the wind tickle the leaves in my Aspen, last evening later it stood gracefully under the star filled summer sky, last Sunday 7/9 sitting in middle of a grove Cottonwood Trees while celebrating our daughter’s birthday (so thankful she was able to enjoy after suffered a concussion earlier in Jul, it happened right next to me she was unconscious,briefly, I am still concerned ) with family from a far, we all talked about how those Cottonwoods reminds us all of time spent in the Cottonwood campground along the banks of the Little Missouri River where the Buffalo Cross (Teddy Roosevelt National Park, ND) , hugging a 650 year old tree about two weeks ago, thinking of the shade, the air, the colors and density of that forest trail….many, many more cherished memories of life among the trees *///* and I’ve seen such destruction, old scars and fresh cut, clear cuts, drove past miles of forest fire burns, two weeks ago, the destruction of some many varieties of Trees when the Ice Storms coat and how I feel every-time I see a log truck and how I feel when a life ends that of a Logger and that of a Mighty Tree (a young man logger died instantly,last week)…and I though of you about five weeks ago and how I wanted to share my firsthand sorrow… I pulled out of my road a minute later I was sitting at a red light just in front and beside me on the right was a log truck with one section of old growth a few spindly logs…I looked at the entire section and noticed that the end of the log cut was weeping where the Tree had been savagely ripped from it mooring of earth and the nourishing life blood of water bleeding, staining the end grain dark, the anger felt as my heart sunk… We owe much to Trees…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Beautiful knowledge. I have always had a deep Connection to trees and it is so disturbing to know that we could create a future without them. Each time I hug a tree I thank it and now I will listen that little bit more. 🍃🍀

    Liked by 1 person

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