Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading a book called The Secret Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Although a bit of a clinical read, it’s a wonder filled journey into the mysterious lives of plants, trees and bugs as a collective existence. It explores how these species coexist, communicate, compete and live symbiotically.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading a book called The Secret Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Although a bit of a clinical read, it’s a wonder filled journey into the mysterious lives of plants, trees and bugs as a collective existence. It explores how these species coexist, communicate, compete and live symbiotically. The book seems like a fantasy, but it’s completely real, right outside your windows and doors, below your very toes. I think that’s the best part.
A majority of my stories talk about our connection to Nature, and how we can find parallels and commonalities between the nature of Nature and our own human nature. Since reading this book, I began to consider that perhaps the similarities go both ways: nature vs human as well as human vs nature.
The book speaks about trees as social beings: being part of a family and existing harmoniously (and symbiotically) within a limitless variation of diversity. Though individual breeds of trees stand strong, trees as a whole stand stronger together as a team of one species instead of individually. Sounds similar to our difference in races or nationalities.
There was one part of the book called ‘Street Kids’ that investigated, in particular, trees that are planted in neighbourhoods. Not naturally grown in the wild, yet orphaned in solitude amid trimmed front lawns and brick driveways. No mama trees or sister trees, all alone and surrounded by “designer-Nature”. Trees born into this kind of situation do not grow or develop as well as natural grown trees that have the social and sustenance support required to flourish.
It was easy for me to compare this situation to a human being, or any other living being for that matter. I began to imagine all the side effects and consequences of the existence of something being bound to separation and isolation, when the fate of a living being is decided for them, and enforced outside of its natural habitat.
And then, I witnessed a first hand experience of the aftermath in my own neighbourhood.
I live in a small subdivision where each sidewalk lawn is adorned by identical trees, all symmetrically spaced in front of the houses like a line of young soldiers. My neighbours tree, at a young 25 years old and after several years of struggling, finally fell ill beyond recovery. One spring it finally limped lifelessly and she decided to replace the tree with something new and different. She wanted a tree that would stand out in the neighbourhood amongst all the other clones, and so it did.
The book taught me that trees are compassionate beings; a network in times of need if one is to fall ill, damaged or infested. The older, healthier trees will send nutrients to those in need and help them to heal and, hopefully, survive. Even as a confused “prop” tree, their similar DNA still leads them to connect with one another.
So why not this tree? Where was the help?
It took one stormy day and terrible odds for this poor young beauty to be struck by lightning. Within weeks it was ridden with disease and limb by limb, rotted to the ground.
It’s almost like the original neighbourhood trees had shunned it. Why didn’t they help this stranger breed? Did they want it gone, were they threatened? Either way, I finally witnessed a human side of nature, as opposed to the natural side of humans.
I had been focusing so much in seeing my similarities to Nature that I didn’t consider it might be similar to me too. If I can feel like a bird, deer, or even the wind…can it feel like me too?
Everything is still growing, learning, and evolving together in one big circle. I guess even Nature’s only human too…