Monday, November 30, 2009

Singing Trees

It was a cloudy day, with small patches of blue sky interspersed among the clouds. The temperature had climbed above the 40 degree mark and with the sun poking through the clouds I felt compelled to head out to the patch of woods behind Hidden Ponds Park. I had not been to the woods for several years, mostly I have been avoiding them for fear that any connection I felt to them would be destroyed when they are cut down to make way for more houses. Apparently any plans to cut them down must have been put on hold due to the downturn in the economy, so feeling a bit down-turned myself decided to venture back to them for a bit of a stimulus to my soul.

I entered the woods, crossed the remnant of a ditch that had been excavated through them, and found a small clearing of sorts where the sun was shining through the trees as it lowered itself in the sky. I unfolded my small stool and took a seat. A slight breeze was blowing, causing the poplars and cottonwoods that made up most of the woods to gently sway. Occasionally the swaying caused the branches of adjoining trees to gently rub against each other, creating a gentle soft squeaking song. The song would not last long, about the time I noticed it, the winds would die down and silence would fill the opening once more.

When I first heard the song, I thought it might be an unknown bird singing a fall song.
A nuthatch stopped by for a short while to fill in the gaps between the tree song, filling the air with its own nuthatch call. And then a robin took its turn with a song of its own. And then silence, making room for the tree song to be heard. We don’t often think of trees being singers, perhaps it is because in our noisy world of jets, airplanes, traffic, and hammering, it takes much effort and concentration to be able to hear the music of the trees.

Not all trees have the same gift of music, at least the ability to play the branch squeak sonata. When the winds are constant enough and strong enough, all trees seem to be able to participate in the original woodwind chorus that exists when wind blows through the tree branches. But the ability for trees to sing, takes some special gifts – correct growing conditions that allow optimum size and placement next to a similarly gifted accompanist who is willing to share a branch to bow against. When these conditions occur, and the winds are just right, and our machines are quiet, the performance is definitely worth the concentration expended.

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