Talking with Trees

Elms are made out of spaces where there is no light, within light, limited by having to be connected to each other yet arranged so that they both lead away from each other and fill in the spaces between each other, always without touching.

Every elm is a community. It releases its seeds to the wind in the spring, from its newest twigs, and then spends the summer getting ready for more. Rowans, on the other hand …

… slip berries into the mix, which will be ready for the birds in early February, and can’t afford the denseness of the elm. It needs the dim light of winter to concentrate in the berries (as red will do) so they will shine. For this, it needs more light and more space between its branches. Their spacing also allows it to grow up between other trees, leaving room for them, and allows for the weight of the berries to bring branches down into any available space that other trees don’t take up. Every rowan in other words, is a part of a community of other species. Now, every aspen…

… is the stem of a vast underground being. It is not an individual. Only the group is the individual, but that’s a human way of looking at it, not an aspen one. Aspens survive the 1,000 pests that devour them in this way; each stem is expendable, with the exception that some must always be young. For that, the older ones must fall. Every aspen is a wave standing in place. I think we call that a lake. These are the whitecaps. as for Interior Douglas firs, each is a pine that has adapted to the wet and then adapted back to the dry. It should be no surprise that each has one life alive and another dead.

Just ask your local eagle for the deets.

Cottonwoods, on the other hand, are vertical rivers between shores and channels of bark. If you’re going to talk to a cottonwood you have to wait …

… until you feel the current streaming past and feel very small. The estuaries of these trees are their leaves and branches. Talking to them is about becoming a boat. Not a physical boat. More like the effort of launching in one, the feeling of the land giving way and the sea carrying you. It has a lift to it. See?

Elms in Front, Cottonwood in Back

Do you feel that? Among the trees, sight is the body in space. The words are exact.

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