Apologies to the band that shares this post’s title. This post has nothing at all to do with the band beyond this italicized apology.
I’ve said for a long while that people should listen to the trees — since about the time I hung with the local druids in the late 80s/early 90s. While the grove (as opposed to coven, which is more wiccan than druidic) probably had some role in this kind of talk from me, I don’t recall any specific time that such things were discussed amongst us. Mayhaps we did, but my post-alcoholic grey matter can’t find the connecting synapse that says it is so.
I hung out in forests for most of each summer growing up, so it seemed pretty much self-evident that the trees had something to say once I got over being a typical manifest destiny jerkwad (by around 10) and began to see the forest as a living, breathing thing instead of something to be harvested, used, and abused. I didn’t come to that conscious revelation until later, but I do have a thing for clusters of trees, and have had one for as long as I can recall (even at four, I was “exploring” the thin line of trees between my grandparent’s and their neighbor’s properties that was about four adult strides in depth).
The typical response over the years when I said such things as, “the trees have something to say, if only you’d stop and listen,” I’d mostly get a nervous chuckle and a backwards step as people tried to increase the space between themselves and an obvious fruitcake (or, perhaps, someone who’s used far too many drugs — the hippie hair didn’t help with that). But I could feel, if not hear, something whenever I entered a wooded area and let myself be receptive (rather than transmitting my own arrogant humanity). Spirits, tree people, whatever. If you can’t tell, I don’t have much use for labels other than for the purposes of trying to communicate ideas. But I knew something was “going on”.
So I’m not surprised that it’s coming out that, yep, trees are somehow communicating. Maybe not with words, but they are working together and sending signals of some type to each other.
See the piece published in The Atlantic today: The Trees Are Talking. The author discusses something often overlooked in our relationship with trees — that trees seem likely to be a “plural” collective that communicate with each other to achieve what appears to be a common goal. And how we are often fixated on the trunk of the tree and frequently overlook the canopy, or the roots, when we think or write about trees. I found it illuminating and it made me more determined than ever to be inclusive of the roots under the trees (earthy things seem to be profane to many folks) as well as that space above our line of sight when I write about trees.
The article also got me to thinking about the arrogance we have as a species in thinking that we know everything there is to know about communication and how we try to force our own model onto other species, be they fox, dogs, cats, wolves, dolphins or trees. How can we ever hope to find “signs of intelligent life” if we bias all of our searching with how we, ourselves, communicate. Perhaps intelligent life outside of humanity exists in abundance all around us — we’re just too self-absorbed to shut up and listen.