Posted by: atowhee | February 17, 2017


Nora the Dog and I walked at Yamhill city sewer ponds today.  Only one snipe where there were three dozen on Sunday.  More water in the fields, Mallards on temporary pond there.  Other birds included one BC Chicakdee, two Flickers, three Ruddy Ducks.  Numerous were Cacklers, Canada Geese, Mallards, Lesser Scaup.

A mature ash tree had fallen over and blocked the path.  The tree was on the west side of the creek and fell away from the creek.  Presumably it had leaned too far that way because it had no roots to support it on the east side.  The ash already had its pendulous buds for spring.  Just a few feet away stood an equally old oak.  That tree is gnarled and even today was still dropping a few of its dried leaves from last summer. That ash and that oak have grown side-by-side for decades, wet years and dry, cold winters, sunny summers, as the ball fields nearby were first laid out, then busy, then abandoned.  What must that oak be feeling at the death of the neighboring ash?
I got home later to see in the Feb 16 “LRB” a review of the boom THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES: WHAT THEY FEEL, HOW THEY COMMUNICATE.   By Peter Wohlleben.ash-1ash-twoThe seeds that will never mature.ash-seeds3

In his book Wohlleben describes an ancient moss-covered beech stump.  That beech tree had been cut centuries before.  Poking around with his knife he finds the stump is still green beneath the bark, alive.  Checking previous research and the locale he comes to realize the other nearby beech trees are supplying the stump and its root system with sugar and moisture.  Who needs leaves if you’ve got friends with leaves?

The “LRB” review of this book is by Francis Gooding.  In one paragraph he writes, “The kind of consciousness that Wohlleben proposes is so different from ours as to be utterly alien: it is a diffuse, blind intelligence located in the sensitive, questing filaments of thousands of root-tips, or a networked language of chemical messages, fanning out through the forest floor via a ‘wood wide web’ of fungal mycelium.  It is a sensory alertness in every leaf.”  You can click here to read the full review which includes Frans de Waals’ book on animal smarts as well.

In German “wohl” means well, possibly or actually depending on the dialect.  “Leben” means to live.  To live well perhaps we need to better understand our fellow creatures, both mobile and rooted. Would not be holding my breath for the new federal regime to declare “love your tree day.”


  1. Who needs leaves if you’ve got friends with leaves? VERY FUNNY!

    Yeah, I have been looking forward to reading this book, but must await the paperback. 😦

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