The Ancient and the Street-wise
The ginkgo trees on my street speak to me daily. As both a chaplain and a landscape architect, we have a lot to chat about. Ginkgos are some of the BEST NoCal partiers of the seasons. (It is easy to forget what month it is in the San Francisco Bay area…we get three or four rose blooms here.)
However, the ginkgoes are not fooled by easy weather. They offer bright green spring leaves, which deepen to summer blue greens. Then at some magic autumn moment they withdraw their greenness and reveal gold. The thing with ginkgoes are they hold that gold in Northern California like no other tree. For weeks they stay in their sunlight colors just hinting at pink—it’s like they are holding their breath for a grand finale...and they are.
The Curtain Call
Over one or two days, with particularly windy conditions, they escape their earthly branches and dance around the street—animating the air.
It is not fall for me without this moment.
My neighbor cavetches about the leaves, but I dance with them (like nobody is watching...).
Find one and watch it turn ....nirvana.
For the man who loved trees—it was this tree who saved him…
In the first story on the Santa Rosa Fire, the hero tree was an Ulmus Parvifolia...a Chinese or Lacebark Elm.
“Everyone got out…I woke them up…but I wouldn’t have gotten up if it wasn’t for this tree here.” He pointed to the lean, upright bones of a street tree—still standing tall (if skeletal) sixty feet in the air. …"My wife was always on me to cut it down but we lived in the house for 35 years, and I never did. It rained down little pellets on my window…I thought it was hail."
"That tree woke me up…and I woke up all my neighbors…saved my life …that tree.”
For gardeners, this is not news. Trees are neither silent nor still. Like us they use air to speak in rustles, moans, whistles, and sometimes crashes. Their shelter is just one reason they help us be still, but do they talk?
They talk to each other and to other trees through their roots in relationship with various fungi but also thru chemical compounds they emit thru their leaves indicating pests nearby or grazing animals are nearby.
In the bestselling book, The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben documents the stories of these slow interrelationships of root to root, and leaf to leaf tête-à-têt and considers them “wonderful beings” with innate adaptability, intelligence, and the capacity to communicate with — and heal — other trees.
Even if you cannot get your brain around this new research, gardeners (and those who have eyes to see…) already know that trees talk…to us. They talk to us through heart stopping beauty, the shady invitations to respite on a hot day, and through the living-large celebration of the seasons.
Consider going out today and get to know a tree…it may save your life.
What makes space sacred for you?
Making San Francisco Bay Area native, edible & water thrifty gardens...