November 23, 2018

Do you think they miss me?

by Erin Gould     
Turkey Creek, Gila, New Mexico
Sometime in late October

I spent most of my time with this one sycamore tree. They are so beautiful. We spent many hours together; I was in their arms for a good portion of each day and slept under them each night.

I love how they sound in the morning.

I have been reading The Language of Plants, an anthology of essays that consider both the intrinsic and extrinsic language of vegetal life. I am not going to lay out the many instances of scientific evidence or the philosophical arguments, but plants use and understand a variety of forms of language. They are intelligent. They learn from past experiences and plan for the future. Plants see. Plants smell. Plants feel. Plants hear. Plants speak.

I was thinking about what I will call “tree-time.” How many sunrises and sunsets and full moons and summer equinoxes has this sycamore seen? How many bird songs have they listened to?

I have been collecting the round, spiky, strange, aggregate seed clusters from sycamores for a long time (at least by my perception, maybe the sycamore would disagree). My almost-mother-in-law asked everyone to bring something that represented freedom to Passover dinner a few years ago and I brought a bowl of them. I wonder how many potential trees I carried out to Espanola that day.

I have never really tried to get to know one tree like this before.

Do you think they felt me there? Heard my calls of “good morning” and “good night” from where I laid inside my tent each day? Appreciated the gifts I left in their branches as I cried and said a “goodbye,” an “I cannot wait to see you again,” an “I will never forget you”?

What would the world look like if humans paused for any moments to stop and really think about the lives of the trees around them? What would it look like if more of us gave a shit about vegetal individuals beyond wanting them to be beautiful and scenic and clean our air? What if we said “them” instead of “it”?

If I make it back to that site, and camp under that tree, will they remember me?

It has been a couple of weeks since I broke down my tent under that sycamore. I miss them already.

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