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  • Jodie Harburt

Tales from the Earth: Tree Talk

A true short story.
I heard trees request things of me a few times; their message was loud and clear.

We have our usual chit chat in passing, but their requests have been defining moments in time and I take them with the utmost respect, in fact, if you were to ask me "Why do you do what you do?" My answer could simply and factually be "because the trees told me to...." I'm not one to blindly follow orders, even when they seem to come straight from above, but the tree talk resonated with my soul and my instinct and I knew them to be speaking the truth. The whole truth. And I was honoured to be asked, though I know they ask the same of everyone who walks by.... if only they'd hear....

So I'm working on the requests that came from such positions of rooted authority. Recently it occurred to me that I could ask for something back, I too could make a request.

I do converse with the moon and the stars and I've had more conversations with the sea than I can count. I have become accustomed to sharing my gratitude and requests with the silent infinity of the night cosmos and random shooting burning bits of meteor have granted my every wish so far.

But with trees it was me doing the listening and though I have spoken I have never had the audacity to ask for something.

I wondered whether they would listen to my plea, as incongruous as it seemed, somehow I believed they would. So I tried it. I asked the great old ash .... "Can you do something for us?" She was silent.

I feared her scorn for a conciliatory approach so I just said it as it is; "I mean I know it's not how our conversations normally go.... but this is our joint existential threat... surely that justifies ......" I trailed off.

She remained unmoved.

"Ok, so we, us humans, as a species .... yes we really fucked up, it's true and there is nothing good to be said about it. But we are trying to evolve towards something better, we are trying to become more worthy, to survive and to save our planet..... but.... we need more time, we need your help. Can you?....."

It's hard to keep focused when the great trunk has been deformed by pollarding, graffiti and nailed in planks and when the litter filled hollow slit in her lower trunk with a branch stump immediately above looks remarkably like a vagina and clitoris. Yet her pride goes deeper than these scars, carried down to her roots and up to the new buds bursting forth on her branch tips.

"What we need" I said.... "is for you to evolve too, for you to somehow become more capable of absorbing carbon dioxide..... I mean photosynthesis is already a miracle beyond comprehension and you do it everyday..... maybe you can manage upping your intake?"

I had assumed my lack of technical or scientific speak wouldn't be a problem but as the words came out of my mouth I felt very inadequate, very small and ridiculously stupid. With her I'd never felt like that before, she'd always made me feel somehow special and an equal (somewhat less dignified maybe but, you know.... the mobility and vocal cords count for something!) I was not deterred, I knew that she listened despite her reticence. I closed my eyes and opened my heart to let the no-word-speak emanate between us.

The no-word-speak was when the enormity of her story would dizzy me, her ability to be everywhere in everything connected to every being at once would sweep me up. Every story that had ever been lived was ingrained in her bark and every pulse of the earth had vibrated through her roots. As I opened my eyes she seemed to be still ignoring me. I muttered something about going to have the same conversation with the seas, the plankton.... maybe they'd be more inclined. .... and I left. No hard feelings. Maybe I was asking the impossible. It was days later that she replied. I wasn't even anywhere near her. I was in my kitchen doing the washing up... when suddenly her voice boomed across the distance between us. "I stand alone!" "I need my family" It was not just a call of distress and anguish, she was also stating fact. Her roots and branches, though long and wide had nothing more then grass and shrubs to nuzzle with .... not a single tree stands in her immediate vicinity. "I know" I said "it breaks my heart! You are on public land and I ponder how I can help you..... can I plant saplings around you.... can I bring you some company of your kind....." "I speak not for me!" she bellowed

"I speak for us all!....

.....Your request will be fulfilled if you make us family again" And that was it. The simple and obvious answer to a request for a miracle.


Since I first published this over two months ago a few new articles have come to my attention, scientific proof that the planting of trees can really help and may well be the best way for trapping carbon and keeping the heat level down.

It seems that the Tree Talk is True Talk.




+ If you don't believe me that trees talk watch this... even the BBC says they do.

+ And for a more detailed look at the world of trees.

+ The WWF talks about the importance of forests.

+ Check out We Are The Ark and together we can help nature do its magic.

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