“I find trees a source of constant wonder – the more I discover about them, the more I stand in awe… To touch the trunk of an ancient tree is to touch history. Such trees are markers of previous generations… They are silent witnesses to our passing – a presence bigger than us, living on a different time scale”
– Christina Harrison
Trees are witness to many events. They are there when wars are raged. They are there when young lovers carve their initials together in a declaration of commitment. They are there to watch when a small girl falls and grazes her knee in the park. They are there in the churchyard when we are born, when we marry, when we die. Trees are witness to many events, they are keepers of history, of time.
They see the squirrel scurrying up and down and back and forth. They see the fledglings take their first brave leap, year after year. They see the river meander past, always the same and always different. They see the light of the day fading night after night to give way to a star scattered sky. They see the year turn from green to red to white, again and again.
They feel the sun on their leaves, the rip of a leaf being pulled off by a passing child. The tug of a fruit being picked. The scrambling feet of an earnest tree climber. They feel the tentative first steps of a baby bird and the nest being made in the branches. They feel the ivy and lichen growing round and over them, leeching and thieving. They feel the cold winter wind buffeting against the bark and pushing the trunk this way and that. The love blind carvings of two young people wounding the tree in hope of eternal romance. They feel each pitter patter of rain crash into them and the weight of snow on branches.
They near the noise of the forest, the calls of the birds, the cracking of branches in the undergrowth. The sounds a tree hears can make or break the tree’s day. To a tree, the subtle difference between leaves rustling in the wind and rustling because a birds has flapped through them is fundamental. The creak and moan of a storm swaying a trunk rings loud as the chainsaw of death. The sounds of the life which call the tree home. The familiar owls, the sound of an unfamiliar hedgehog rustling round the roots. The tree hears it all.
“The oaks and the pines, their brethren of the wood, have seen so many suns rise and set, so many seasons come and go, and so many generations pass into silence, that we may well wonder what ‘the story of the trees’ would be to us if they had tongues to tell it, or we ears fine enough to understand.”
– Maud van Buren