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2021 Feb

Talking Trees

Listen to the trees and discover what nature is trying to tell us. 

I read an interesting article recently called “The Social Life of Forests” written by Ferris Jabr. Sounds funny, I know. I mean who has a social life right now?

Turns out trees do. The article from the Dec. 2, 2020 issue of the New York Times Magazine profiles an amazing Canadian scientist named Suzanne Simard, who discovered how and why trees talk to each other. (You can also find her Ted Talk called “How Trees Talk to Each Other” on YouTube.)

As a tree hugger, this article resonated with me on many levels. First, I loved that Suzanne made forestry her life’s work because she found the woods such a mystical place to be and, second, that her research has thrown into doubt key scientific concepts, including the Holy Grail: Darwin’s “survival of the fittest.”

What Suzanne discovered is that forests grow stronger and trees live longer because the trees help each other out by sending nutrients and water to each other underground via a network of mycelia, strands of fungal threads, some of which will produce the mushrooms you enjoy on your favorite pizza.

So what does all this have to do with life for us humans? Well, there are many lessons to be learned from nature, number one, but the idea of cooperating for the greater good is what I gleaned from the social life of trees.

As 2021 yawns like an empty chasm before us with fear and uncertainty looming, one thing we do have power over is how much we can cooperate with and help each other through these difficult times. We too can grow stronger and live longer if we seek commonalities among us and ensure that our differences don’t interfere with our ability to recognize that we are all connected on this earth. We need each other just like the trees.

Think about that the next time you and your kids are hiking in the forest. Talk about what we can learn from nature and why cooperation is better than competition any day. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and publisher of Tidewater Family Plus magazine. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com

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