The Silent Voice of Trees and The Hidden Price of Civilization



When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
John Muir

It is a sad day when a tree is struck by lighting, burned in a fire or just dies of decay and sickness. Nature has its own way of changing and renewing. Disturbances are part of the natural life cycle of forests, and most often helps the forest to renew itself. Can we say the same of human-caused deforestation?

Until now I have lived in the outskirts of the city, usually in places where nature still sings and a bit of wilderness can be seen. My childhood was spent climbing trees. I loved to move from branch to branch, looking at the sky between leaves trying to reach as high as I could. You would find me swinging on a liana or sitting comfortably on a fat branch reading. When done, I just hung upside down and hit the ground with a twist; my favorite “see you tomorrow!” farewell and thanks to the tree.

There was something very powerful, a connection I didn’t question or try to rationalize; it just felt so good to be around trees. As I grew up I began to understand how important nature was for me, how its colors, smells and sounds impacted my moods. I needed “green” as much as food to survive. I needed trees as much as friends. Touching a tree, following the lines and rough textures of the bark, felt like caressing something precious and mysterious. I could feel a force hidden behind the seemingly weak layer of bark that crumpled down at my touch or sounded funny when I knocked. Hugging a tree -yes, I’m one of those- was a heartwarming, almost mystical experience; I just couldn’t, help it!

I would never forget my parents’ faces when I came home one day and happily shared my discovery. “We were trees’ kin; we had invisible roots growing down into the earth like theirs that intertwined in a kind of fantastic fabric”. It was a moment of divine madness and clarity! Of course, they dismissed it after a moment, as many do in the presence of those rare instants of enlightened intuition when Wisdom touches and we can see the world through the eyes of God.

I was just a kid! Graciously, my disappointment never touched the inner certainty born that day. It remains eternally imprinted in my soul.

There’s no place for magic and miracles in a world that can’t go beyond the concepts of “utilitarian” and “things;” or that is annoyed with the cost of sweeping leaves, trimming and taking appropriate measures to prevent having to cut a healthy old mature tree.

Come on! We are talking time, money, here! Reality check, lady!

Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
Warren Buffett

It might seem easier and cheaper to just get rid of trees; they are just trees after all, so many out there! Let it be the neighbors, the city, the government and the health insurance problem. Who has time or energy to worry about the improved air quality, the reduction of emissions, smog, the greenhouse gasses and the “urban heat island” effect, noise abatement, storm water attenuation, the provision for wildlife habitat and psychological well-being! Yes, just a few things trees do for us, besides making our spaces beautiful.

Perhaps you can’t relate to my love of trees; perhaps you have never felt their energy, heard them whisper words of wisdom. Perhaps the sight of leaves, their ruffling sound in the wind, the smell of grass and the coolness below its shade, doesn’t make you breathe deeper and sigh in wonder.

Perhaps I am just nuts, and you can’t empathize with my wounded heart as I saw an old beautiful and healthy tree (40 rings on a branch!) being brought down because of the roots growing in search of water. The City of Chicago just cut it down without giving any of us a chance to negotiate an alternative.


It’s just one tree!


Not to me, not to the birds with nests on it, or the squirrels; not to those who would have lived in the neighborhood all their lives, some were not even been born when it was planted. Not for your kid’s future, if we keep thinking this way.

We take for granted the many years it takes for a tree to grow….

And just for exercising “practicality”… I wonder

Where do you park your car on a hot summer? Where do you sit, or barbecue? What is the sight from your bedroom window? Does it inspire you? How much on your power bill this scorching summer?

I’m not a tree expert, I know that trimming and watering can encourage deep root growth, keeping them out of the way. Pruning tree roots are also an alternative. Yes, it might be annoying and not cheap. I grant you that!  But the other side of this is that it would allow the trees in your yard and neighborhoods to offer their beauty and many benefits to our kids in the many years to come, and they shall generously offer us shade and become guardians of memories in our golden years.

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


To be continued…

One Tree Matters- Part Two next.
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