question for Pamela
13, 2006 06:12 PST
A QUESTION FOR PAMELA BRIGGS:
Do you think the distinguished
members of the prestigious 120 Club
know their status/importance?
Back to Will with buried question for Pamela
13, 2006 09:44 PST
Dear Bob --
I think that trees are happy to be recognized and treasured by
creatures for whatever qualities they are perceived to have.
However, I don't think that trees themselves think that size is
the most impressive attributes. Some trees bear tasty fruit;
skilled at playing music with the winds; some are good
Have you ever wondered what lists trees might make about us, if
were into that sort of thing? Trees probably perceive things
that we're not even aware of.
13, 2006 11:20 PST
I've never thought of where I might fit on a
tree's list. Iím not
sure I want to know. But I once imagined a conversation between
Trees of Peace as they gazed down on me on one of my many visits
measure/re-measure them. Here is an up-to-date version of an
conversation between the Jake Swamp and Joe Norton Trees, which
that trees like to be measured.
Location: Conversation begins one crispy autumn day in the Trees
Peace Stand in Mohawk Trail State Forest.
Jake Swamp: Hey, Joe, don't look down, but he's back again.
Joe Norton: Not again!
Jake Swamp: Yeah, he's re-measuring us. How many times is that?
Joe Norton: More than all the seeds I can muster in a ten
Jake Swamp: Hey, I got an idea. Quick, Joe, puff up and I'll
Heíll laser you as the taller of us. Itíll confuse the
pizzazers out of
him. Heíll think his precious measurin gizmo's have gone
Joe Norton: Ah, don't confuse the poor little guy. You know how
prizes his accuracy with numbers. Heís always boastin about
everybody that he knows my height to the inch. Itís a human
I guess. Besides, if we confuse him, we could make him have a
breakdown. And I kinda like being lazered. Tickles my needles
OOH, NIIICE! More, Bobby. Left branch. Up a little. Over ---
down. THERE! Ahhhhh.
Jake Swamp: Softy! But, seriously, doesn't this guy have a life?
Joe Norton: Guess not. Holy Smokes, donít look now, Jake, but
more of 'um. Theyíre swarmin around like green flies on
they're all gonna measure us. Neat! Oooh, that tickles! YEEEHAAA.
Jake, get with it. This is great.
Jake Swamp: All right, all right. I admit. I like it. Laser away
there all you little twirps. Uh, is that John Eichholz who just
Joe Norton: Yep! He's gonna Eichholz us, man. You ainít lived
you've been Eichholzed.
Jake Swamp: Umph! Apparently youíve never been BVPíd, or
Blozaned. Now that, my brother, is really livin.
Conversation ends with two happy trees.
Back to Pamela
13, 2006 14:01 PST
Dear Bob --
What a great conversation! You obviously know these trees pretty
Joe, compassionate and sensitive; Jake, mischievous and cocky.
my friend Joe, I asked my friend Jake . . . "
I believe trees love being touched, and they enjoy sunlight, so
sense they'd dig being lasered.
So is Jake deciduous, and his calling Joe "softy" not
only a jibe at his
temperament but also a sly reference to his softwood status?
They are both white pines. Interestingly,
Monica finds the Joe Norton
tree more friendly and approachable and Joe was the first of the
that I really paid attention to. When we visit the grove, Monica
goes to the Joe Norton tree and sits down at its base. I'm not
I completely understand what she senses the difference to be
Jake and Joe. At 167.3 feet, Jake is the tallest tree in New
So, maybe that's given him an attitude. But Joe's not far behind
164.2 or there abouts. At one time Joe was the slightly taller
two. That was back in November of 1992 when Jack Sobon and I
measured the two trees with a transit. Before that, I'd only
Joe, using crude techniques. Yep, I think that was in 1990. Am I
or what? When Jack and I measured the two, Joe was 155.6 feet
Jake was 155.3. Joe has suffered more crown damage over the
least I think that is the case. But only Will Blozan knows for
is the only human who has seen the tops of both trees up close
personal. Maybe Will can share his recollections of the crowns.
climbed the Jake Swamp tree in November 1998 and the Joe Norton
Oct 2001. Michael Davie did the climb of Jake in 2001 and BVP
Joe with Will in 2001. That was BVP's first tree climb in New
Incidentally, Jake Swamp is the Akwasasne
Mohawk Treaty Chief and
keeper of the trees. Joe is something of a personal friend. He
visited Mohawk Trail State Forest many times and planted two
for ceremonial purposes. He cites the short version of the
the Iroquois Nation involving Dekanawida and Hiawatha.
Joe Norton is the grand chief of the Kahnawake
Mohawks near Montreal.
They were also called the French Mohawks. Joe has also visited
of Peace Grove. He was there at its dedication in 1997.
Both Jake and Joe are imposing men. They do
honor to their trees and
vice versa. However, of the two chiefs, Joseph Takwiro Norton
fiercer, warrior-like look.
I'm going to try to get Jake Swamp to come
back for a visit for the
Oct 2006 ENTS rendezvous.
Back to Pamela
14, 2006 05:25 PST
Pam and Bob,
I have never been one to anthropomorphize inanimate objects like
boats. My Tracker does not have a name, nor does my computer. I
assign human motivations to wild animals. However I am a big fan
fiction and fantasy. There are on notable occasions examples of
trees - the ENTS in LOTR, the Elcrys in Terry Brooks' Shannarra
Other stories of people being transformed into trees. Science
treated sentient trees in more abstract ways. These stories tend
these beings as much like humans only with a longer time-frame
What would a sentient tree actually be like? Would it even think
manner comprehensible to humans, would there be any common point
reference? Would we even recognize its thought as intelligent?
It seems to
me that we likely would not recognize the tree as sentient. We
all of its actions and thoughts as simple biological processes.
things seem to have a response or reaction to threats. All seem
driven to reproduce. All are engaged in the search for food. So
would have these things in common, but from there where would a
based-intelligence evolve? Surely the world
view of the tree would be
different from ours. Would it have emotions as we know them? I
am sure they
would "like" sunlight, whatever like would mean them.
Would they recognize
that humans even existed? Pderhaps trees really are intelligent,
simply don't recognize the truth.
Back to Will with buried question for Pamela
14, 2006 05:34 PST
I assume they know that they can serve as good back scratchers...and
spend some of their time watching each other's back!
14, 2006 10:56 PST
Ed and Pamela,
Oooh, Ed, you are skirting a very deep subject
- the very nature of
consciousness, human and non-human. The orthodox scientific
usually been to ignore the possibility of anything that cannot
directly perceived through the use of the 5 senses and their
via instrumentation. But, who would deny the validity of his or
thoughts? Yet, try to capture them for verification and study,
that they ever existed, beyond the simple observing and
chemical activity in the brain, and humans split up into
camps. Religion, Philosophy, Metaphysics, Parapsychology,
the Occult, etc. all come in to play. On the more scientific
Michael Perlman believed that trees possess a kind of
albeit not of the human variety, that allowed them to respond to
am quite confortable with Mike's concept since I believe that
things possess an energy field/body that is aware and that is
to the physical body until the time of physical death, but is
same as the physical body or a manifestation of chemical
activity in the
body. I have many reasons for my beliefs, and a virtual lifetime
study, that I won't go into here. However, my belief system
allows me to
be open to the idea of separate tree consciousness. However, but
not perceive it to be of the human type.
The nature of tree consciousness was a subject
that Mike Perlman was
researching when he died. He and I had many discussions on the
In our discussions, Mike was by far the more adroit thinker of
of us. I often struggled to understand how he was seeing tree
consciousness and his concept of a psychological structure
trees, although not a human psychological structure.
Ahhh, ENTS goes Woowoo! YEEEHA!
Back to Ed
14, 2006 15:20 PST
Dear Ed and Bob --
You bring up intriguing facts and raise fascinating questions.
it be wonderful to talk with a "Nim" or "Koko"
of the tree persuasion?
I think that if a tree and a human could communicate, there
general agreement with concepts such as "Sunlight
good," "water good,"
"fire bad." If the human tried to explain exceptions
such as, "Fire
bad, but when I'm cold, fire good -- and that reminds me; it's
where's my ax?" I can imagine the tree might have a problem
In the world of my novels, trees have souls. The trees live
people, and have for many ages, so they understand them. Trees
mind being felled if there is true need, because even after the
dead, its soul remains.
The people respect and honor the trees, just as they respect and
their own families, and their human ancestors whose bodies are
They recognize how much trees give them, in life and in death,
responsibility to keep that relationship going for future
I have no problem accepting that there are non-human
about, and I don't mind differing opinions. However, to me, the
problem with stating that trees (and plants and animals) are not
intelligent in any respect is the goal behind such a
Isn't what is behind such arguments the desire to conclude that
is not intelligent; therefore, we can do with it whatever we
Humans have a long history of disrespecting the environment.
humans have enough problems with respecting other humans!
trunk asymmetery, Macroscope 25, more tree conversations
16, 2006 06:14 PST
... BTW, Pamela, I approached Jake
cautiously, sense from his lofty perch he and Joe might have
sport at my
expense. I could hear the plotting.
Jake: Hey, Joe, what's that new gizmo that old Bob's got down
Pssst! When he gets beneath, let's jiggle our branches and drop
snow on him.
Joe: Okay. Good plan. Hee, hee....... Hey, why is he just
with that nice new gizmo? No fair! Okay, Bobby, just you watch
Jake: Guess he knows which one is the more important of us, dear
Joe: Oh yeah? Well, I used to be taller. Besides, mama always
Jake: This conversation is beneath my dignity. I refuse to get
family matters. ........ A little to the right, Bobby. Ahhhh,
where's John Eichholz, BVP, and Will Blozan?
Joe: You, you, you ..... CONE HEAD!
Back to Pamela thru Ed
16, 2006 11:23 PST
It sounds like the people in your novel have
grown spiritually - well
beyond humanity's current perch. To pursue your line of thought,
quote from what you wrote: "problem with stating that trees
and animals) are not intelligent in any respect is the goal
a proclamation. Isn't what is behind such arguments the desire
conclude that -- 'this is not intelligent; therefore, we can do
whatever we want'?". I agree completely. Reducing a thing's
is a coy human strategy to justify/rationalize its exploitation.
at the state of our environment and how we got to where we are,
cardinal sin of modern human civilization might be said to be
exploitation. However, I wonder if tree consciousness embraces
exploitation of an area? If so, which species are the biggest
exploiters? I'll bet Lee Frelich and others would have some
candidates. So, let's see, if one species colonizes more
than another and eliminates its competitors, should other tree
admire, fear, hate, fight, ignore, etc. the dominating species?
fictional accounts are there bad trees? Bad species? How does
competition play out. Just wondering. As Monica and I agreed
evening, you've given us flashes of an incredibly nimble
Two inquiring minds want to know how your tree being handle
among their kind.
BTW, were you talking about Koko the gorilla?
Competition: He Had to Ask, Part II
16, 2006 13:46 PST
Dear Bob and Monica --
The people in my novel are spiritual throwbacks, actually --
in an isolated village and never abandoned their reverence for
With no stores, plumbing, or electricity, they must depend on
and whatever the Earth provides to survive. They have a
respect for the natural world that most of us have lost.
Competition in the forest hasn't come up in the story, so I had
the linden tree spirit about all this. He says that there are no
species or individual trees. When species are invasive, they're
malicious; just doing what they believe they need to do to
There are misguided, lost, or naive individuals, but they learn.
are slow learners, just like people.)
Trees don't have egos the way humans do. They have an interest
own health and the health of the forest as a whole. However,
always aware that their physical bodies are temporary, but they
themselves -- their souls -- go on. So they don't have such an
emotional investment in their individual accomplishments as
Their model of life is as an interconnected web. A hierarchy is
Trees are patient. A skimpy growth season doesn't make them
Loss of limbs doesn't devastate trees the way it does people.
survive droughts, storms, and bitter cold. They trust the Earth
sustain them and the Sky to bring them sunlight and rain. They
out their roots and branches as much as they're able, but if
crowded out, they understand that that is part of the plan. They
that their role is not to be the biggest, but to serve in some
Trees act in service to others, both in life and in death.
bears fruit for creatures, or is hollowed out and provides a
them, each tree is doing its part. They trust Mother Earth and
Sky to work out the details, and in the end, provide for
Trees are not completely fatalistic. They work for their own
They have their defenses, like the trees which, when attacked by
insects, cry out to their brothers and sisters in warning so
protect themselves. So trees do feel a special kinship with
You might liken the trees in this forest to the people in the
village it surrounds. Each individual has its own personality.
are little rivalries and gossip. But they have a strong sense of
community, and protect and care for one another despite their
Also, trees in general have a well-developed sense of humor.
Yes, I was referring to Koko the signing gorilla, and Nim
it?), who was one of the first chimps to learn sign language.
If you're interested in clashes of tree personalities, I can dig
link to a story by a Russian writer which is engaging, yet one
saddest, most depressing things I've ever read.
sad Russian tree story
17, 2006 11:40 PST
Dear Michele --
The story is "Attalea Princeps," by Vsevolod
Mikhailovich Garshin. It
devastated me. The author killed himself. I'm not surprised.
Here's a link to it (click "Go on to Part II" at the
bottom to read the
Michele Wilson wrote:
what is the name of the Russian writer's sad story?