I took my dog for a walk in the neighborhood late this afternoon. It was a short walk, because dark clouds around us looked like rain, and thunder shook the air.
Wind blew tree branches around, though not hard enough to break them. We headed home when I felt occasional raindrops touch my arms and face. By the time we got back home, the wind was whipping tree branches harder.
Now, as I sit at my computer writing this blog, my dog just ran in from outside. Her back is wet, and raindrops are spattering my window. I am glad we shortened our walk, which will be longer on a day with better weather.
As I watched tree branches blowing in the wind, I thought about Peter Wohlleben, who wrote the amazing book, The Hidden Life of Trees. In the bestseller, he wrote about how wonderful trees are, how much more incredible they are than many people realize. He said if we are going to save the world's forests, we must recognize how impressive trees are. They have an innate ability to adapt, they are intelligent, and they communicate with other trees and help them heal.
While a student in forestry school, he learned that trees were just an economic commodity. That's what he believed until he joined a German forestry agency and managed a community forest. He began to understand how incredible trees are, and he no longer agreed with what he had been taught in school about clear-cutting, chemical use and mechanical harvesting. Those methods focused on short-term profits but took no thought for sustainability. He believed there were tree-friendly ways to manage forests so that trees could thrive.
When a local mayor hired Wohlleben to manage that same community forest in an eco-friendly way, he demonstrated how it could be done well and profitably. He did not use insecticides or heavy machinery. Trees that needed to be harvested were taken down by hand, and horses hauled the trees out.
He gave people the opportunity to participate in a living gravestone project. They could pay to have their ashes interred at the base of an ancient tree. They paid the commercial value of the tree for the privilege of having their ashes placed there.
As I watched the wind blow through tree branches and the rain make designs on my window, I thought about how much better my front and back yards are to have trees in them. Not only are they beautiful, but they make me feel calmer when I'm around them. Peter Wohlleben said that trees communicate with other trees and help them heal. Sometimes I think that, in their own way, trees also communicate peace and calmness to us and help us heal.