A few months ago I heard a scientist, Peter Wohlleben, being interviewed on Radi0 National telling us of a book he has written called The Hidden Life of Trees. The title alerted me and I was immediately interested when I realized that this was no dry scientific treatise. It was an invitation to come to really know and love trees in a whole new way.
He was speaking of the need trees have to form communities and the many ways they can cooperate and look out for one another. He was using words such as friendship, and ability to feel, and also how they learn as they grow just as we do. He speaks of them as social beings, capable of sharing food with their own species.
It has been observed that they can communicate via scent, using it to forewarn nearby relatives when a browsing four-legged enemy is approaching – or to send out messages when water is running low! And so much more!
What delighted me was that he spoke and wrote so intuitively, right and left brain so much in harmony, yet so much of thus understanding had been gathered over years from scientific observation – and with wonderful results. Trees – whole forests of trees – come alive on every page.
He explained that with trees it is the root that is the brain and is where experiences can be stored – It is in charge of all chemical activity and that these electrical impulses can be measured. An example is when root tips hit stones or something toxic, and this information is transmitted, resulting in adjusting the direction of growth.
The more I heard the more it reminded me of what the Spirit of Bamboo had explained to me in a teaching I received on an intuitive level some years ago about the nature of the bamboo species, not just how we could relate to it, but also much about mutual relationships between members of the plant kingdom, using the Eucalypts as an example. I have already included this story in my blog; check it out as well as reading Peter’s book to link the connections.
Another author who writes beautifully about trees is David George Haskell, a professor of biology and environmental studies who has written “The Forest Unseen” and “The Song of Trees – Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors.” I’m looking forward to hearing him speak at the Byron Bay Writers Festival N.S.W. in August. (2017)
He has written that “To be able wrap other people into my relationship with the tree, and the tree into my relationship with other people – it is very enriching.” . This is a sentiment that I also resonate with in relation to the plant kingdom in general, and which prompted me to write the series on my blog which I called “growing my love of Nature through my gardens“, particularly the chapter on Bellingen in which trees feature as some of the main characters.
I also came across Professor E.O.Wilson, a wise Elder- also a biologist, naturalist and prolific author who has identified a new genre of nature-writing located between science and poetry “in which the invisible appear, the small become larger, and the immense complexity and beauty of Life are more closely revealed.”
He has coined the word Biophilia which he describes as an instinctive bond between humans and other living systems which is in our genes, and warns us not to ignore it.
He can be listened to on the net in a recorded Ted Talk.
I believe we live in exciting times when we can finally begin to see scientific knowledge combining with an intuitive relationship with nature and all life, and matched with the ability to convey this in words! Alleluia!
Recently a friend reminded me that In Tim Winton’s book “My Island Home” he quotes a poem spoken by Kakadu elder Big Bill Neidjie, who had been a buffalo hunter, luggerman and mill worker in his younger days.
He was the last surviving speaker of the Gaagudju language and in his later life he was an inspirational leader. Tim had noted that “here, surely, is a voice we should attend to.” (p.234.) and believed him to be a mystic.
“I love it tree because e love me too.
E watching me same as you
tree e working with your body, my body,
e working with us.
While you sleep e working.
Daylight, when you walking around, e work too.
That tree, grass….. that all like our father.
Dirt, earth, I sleep with this earth.
Grass ….. just like your brother.
In my blood in my arm this grass.
This dirt for us because we’ll be dead,
we’ll be going this earth.
This the story now.”