I had the windows open last night and listened to the wind blow through the trees and hedges around our home. We have a small stand of bamboo on one side of the house, a few fruit trees in the garden out front, and to the back, a high hedge of yew.
Not far down the road, old oak and cypress line the path down to a nearby river. From my window I can see stands of pine, alder, and until recently, an orchard of massive cherry trees left to grow to their full height.
The soft rustle of the fruit trees, the rush and creak of the oak and cypress, the whisper of yew and the rush of bamboo. Each of them has its own voice in the wind.
There were many more when we moved here. A wonderful old cypress that was cut down early one Saturday morning, illegally, a fine paid to the authorities so that a new house didn’t have the nuisance of an old tree where a straight hedge might be. Beech trees that were lost to a long, hot summer. Half a small forest to thirty new houses.
The cherry orchard was cut down this year to make way for ten townhouses.
At least we are still surrounded by a multitude of other trees that sing a raucous chorus.
There are 7.4 billion people on the planet today, and we take up a lot of space.
The multitude of us has cleared multitudes of trees, and even when we replant trees, we tend to farm in tidy rows of mono-tree plantations that all whisper in a single voice.
The Worldometer, a constantly updated stocktaking of human population and impact, displays all 7.4 billion humans as if they are crop trees popping up on a tree plantation, each just like the other, with only empty space between, devoid of real life.
Hardly a representation of the messy, complex cultures and interactions that make life worth living.
There are calls for the replanting of 7.8 billion trees, or just a little more than one tree per person on the planet. And not just any tree, but a whole bouquet of trees.
If I tend to write often about trees, it’s only a sign of just how important they are to us, and to our world.
After all, if we like to think that we value the different voice of each person today, why shouldn’t the trees have the same variety?
Plant a tree. Or a few. Or help someone else do it.