Through my twenties, when I struggled to figure out where – if anywhere – I fit into this world, I envied trees because they knew their place. It didn’t matter the tree as long as it was deciduous and healthy. I don’t know why I never considered being a spruce or balsam fir. I envied trees to the point of feeling bitter about my lot as an aimless college grad.

These brothers live alone out in the hicks (at the top a brushy climb up from Penn Station). Drawing: Ana Lucia Fernandez

Forty-plus years hence, having lived in this one place for all this time, I don’t envy trees so much as bask in their presence. Tragically, some of the elders have died. Maggie I broke off limb by limb and we cut the rest of her down. Maggie III blew over in July’s wind storm. The Foreman up on Penn Station is nearly gone; the Palace Guard died a few years ago. It’s hard to walk past him. The Hillbillies live on ledge but they are thriving. It must be the moonshine. The Tiger looks well.

It has been several eternities since the last post. Collectively we are buzzing with information and angst regarding Covid-19. I for one can scarcely tear myself away from the stories. It turns out we are all connected, within this country and within the realm of human beings, by the threat of a microscopic enemy.

What would the trees say? Lots, it seems. In The Hidden Lives of Trees, author Peter Wohlleben expounds on the remarkable ways in which trees communicate with one another for the benefit of the whole. It seems that trees care about each other and help each other in times of need. Electrical impulses pass through the roots. Fungi, operating like fiber-optic internet cables,  relay news bulletins from tree to tree. Trees share information and resources.

Within communities of trees, it’s not a matter of survival of the fittest.  “Their well-being depends on their community, and when the supposedly feeble trees disappear, the others lose as well,” writes Wohlleben. His book includes chapters on Friendships, Social Security, Love, and Trees Aging Gracefully. The natural world amazes, always.

HOW’S THE SAP RUNNING? It’s all a blur. The recurring scenario this

Flavoring maple sap with maple leaves.

year is:
A spell of cold, followed by
A slow warmup during the day,
The sap run kicking in late in the day and
Accelerating at night.

The latest log entry reads: 3/19 Did not quite freeze last night and ran well night and day. Cloudy today with temp near 40. Upper tanks less than 6″ away from overflowing since midnight.

Sugarhouses are for children.

BOILING STATUS: Today is Day 14. We’re making the lightest syrup of the year from crystal clear (beautiful) sap.

SAP SWEETNESS: 2%

SIGNS OF SPRING: I have been living indoors,

Preview of late season: a moth in the sap tank.

working to get the crop in, and need to hear from you readers. What are you hearing, smelling, seeing, touching?

Which way? The turkeys aren’t sure.

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “The Wood Wide Web

  1. This reminds me of what Ram Dass wrote on trees:

    When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

    The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.

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  2. Nebraska knollers, I love this post.

    Trees offer us a message of resilience during the turmoil. I am surrounded by desert Juniper, Pinon and flowering Apricot trees where I live. In the spring, the juniper disperses pollen especially irritating to humans, so I won’t go hugging one today, but enjoy from afar.

    I look forward to the silver lining from this crisis where people are reconnecting with nature in parks, forests and waterways. I cautiously hope there will be a resurgence of respect for nature, like with the return of dolphins on the Italian coast during the last week, as an example.

    Keep on keeping on and don’t worry too much. Fresh air and sunshine are your natural defenses.

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  3. Flowering apricots…heaven, though I’ve never seen an apricot tree. I didn’t know about the dolphins. Is their return due to lower levels of pollution due to human activity shutdown?

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    1. yes, a dolphin was seen and filmed in the canals of Venice, the first time in sixty years! And the swans are returning since the boat traffic is reduced.

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  4. Cousin Bea from Tacoma, Washington sends this: It’s been spring here for some time—earlier than usual by a bit. Daffodils, primroses, rhodies, camellias, trees getting yellow green, flowering fruit trees in their glorious pink and white flowers…the garden is a solace. The lawn has been mowed several times now. I think this week’s sunshine may be the only thing that’s keeping the many people who are now out of a job or working at home sane.

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  5. I watched 2 pairs of lover trees for almost 40 years, one in Burlington, one in Elmore. One pair entwined in a ravishing embrace. The others were across a ski trail from each other about 6′. Their trunks were in perfectly curved sync, as if in a dance. Over time one of each pair weakened and eventually died. Their partners remained holding the memory of the other. One of them has died and left almost no trace of ever having been there. The other is still alive.
    A friend of mine once said, “Love calls another into being.” The lover trees did that.

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    1. Great posts and beautiful thoughts. Trees are awesome and such a gift. I love that you’ve named your special trees and obviously have a deep attachment to your space. Think of yourself as a mobile extension to the sugarbush, certainly a guardian and caretaker. Time in one place is a special gift that allows a deeper bond to the land and its rhythms. We’re seeing more kids out playing and encouraged that this will bring some hard, but positive changes.

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