On the Death of a Tree (II)

After my previous tree conversation, I lingered in the park a while longer, as I didn’t feel quite ready to go back home yet. And so I stayed, enjoying the magic of the autumn leaves flying in the wind, glistening in the sunlight. Until, once again, something disturbed the peace I was feeling.

This park used to be the garden of a castle, an arboretum that turned wild when the castle was abandoned, and the garden was no longer cared for. And so, what was once garden started to turn into woodland. However, recently people started managing the park again. What this means in practice, is that they are turning this place that was on its way to becoming forest into a ‘tree museum’ again: keeping the old trees, but relentlessly mowing down any vegetation that does not fit into this planning, cutting down those trees that aren’t ‘nice’ enough.

 

And so, right after that conversation about a ‘happy’ tree death, I came across a number of stumps of trees that had been cut down recently. And I decided that it would only be fair to give them a chance to speak as well.

So I sat down on one of the stumps, and invited it to share its thoughts with me. I told it that I couldn’t do anything about what happened to them, but I could share its story, and make people listen to what it had to say…

This is a voice of mourning speaking.

I am lost. My body has been amputated. I can dance no more.

Where will my spirit go? My kind needs time to die. We are not made to die by being cut down. We share. Our experiences and our life do not belong to us but to our communities. I have spent my entire life generating memories, listening to stories, so that those who live here, and those that come after me will know who they are, by virtue of consuming my body.

But now all of that has been lost. Nobody asked me if I was ready to go.

I mourn. I search. I weep. Why did people steal my memories? Why could they not wait until it was time for me to leave voluntarily?

I do not blame. I never blame. Killing is not a crime if you are not aware that there was even life to be killed. The winds that whisper to me told me that you had forgotten the art of conversation, and that you were no longer hearing our many calls.

And so I will not blame you, in the same way that a mother does not blame her little children for accidentally destroying something precious.

But…

You, who are hearing this, and you who will be told what I am speaking now. You are children of a new generation. You can no longer pretend unawareness. You can not say, from this point onwards, that a tree is nothing but a piece of wood. So, reconsider your actions. Think of what your impact is on the world around you. Start taking time to listen to it. And become human again.

Become a gift to the world, rather than a burden.

That is what I ask of you. In the future, be mindful that you are more than a walking piece of flesh. You are part of a community. Start to act like it.

 

Think back to these words, the next time you take the gifts of the forest for granted…


Text and images by Beith.

Beith is a druid who likes to wander through the forest, inviting the trees to be her teachers in life. She also runs a personal blog about her druid journey, that can be found at wandering-the-woods.com.

In real life she’s a mathematician, trying to walk the boundary between the rational and the irrational.

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