Ever walk by an interesting tree and wonder about it? How old is it? Do animals live in its branches or inside part of its trunk? What stories could it tell you about people who have walked by. Some trees are called witness trees because they’ve seen horrible events… or maybe two people got engaged under a tree. All of these are possibilities if a tree could tell you what it’s seen or heard.
What is precipitating this question for me? Recently there was a tree that fell across the walking path behind my townhome. As I stood looking at this huge brown tree devoid of leaves, essentially dead, it fell across the path, having fallen due to excessive rain, I wondered about its life. It was a very large tree and yet during a bad storm it was taken down. After many years of standing tall, its root system gave way to old age and poor drainage. It was a product of a bad ecosystem.
Yet, this downed tree lying on the ground still had a story to tell. I stood there and just looked at it. There were lots of holes where animals could make a nest and live. Perhaps birds were born in its branches when it stood tall. I’m sure that it provided shade to other smaller trees, to animals that ran through the nearby vegetation as well as for people who might be passing underneath. There are many possibilities of how this tree could have been productive during its life. Even now in death, this tree will eventually decay to nourish the soil around it to help other plans and tress flourish.
I’ve heard stories of witness trees. These are trees that are normally over one hundred years old that were standing during revolutions, wars, major events, hangings, or other atrocities. Or, on a happier note, there are trees that have witnessed people falling in love, making babies, having lively conversations or passing important information along. One can only imagine what a tree might say, if it could talk!