Posted by: atowhee | September 5, 2022


I am reading The Eight Master Lessons of Nature by Gary Ferguson. One of the first things he tells his readers–don’t just look. Yes, we’re visual animals, but there is so much more than merely meets then eye. I sit late in the afternoon in our back garden. Purple plum and birch branches hang down near my seat. Am occasional gust comes through, drawn in from the ocean by hot air rising against the flank of the Cascades–these breezes come from the west move to the east. These are soft-leafed trees. The sound as their outer parts vibrate in the breeze is a soughing, a soft and distant murmur of a crowd. This instance a crowd of leaves, soon to fall but not yet. I suspect the plums and the birch is like the local crows, the housecat–trim e to shed. Old feathers plucked, old summer fur combed out or, worse, licked off to be the next puked hairball. The trees soon to leach the chlorophyll down to the roots, the leaves shed and the bare branches open to the air and frost.

This sound of the plum/birch consortium compares to other tree sounds I’ve noted. The thunk of walnuts hitting the ground. The screech of cottonwood limbs rubbing against bone another. The rumble of large Doug-firs as gales blow down through Lithia Park in Ashland Creek Canyon. The wind-inspired rustle of eucalyptus leaves in Golden Gate Park, a sound resembling the sound of hundreds of sheets of cardboard slapped together. From childhood thunderstorms in the Ozarks the loud creaking of oak branches, though few ever fell. The leathery slap sound of leaf against leaf in those oaks, and a late summer storm brings the pebble impact of acorn on roof or car top.

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