...buried question for Pamela   Robert Leverett
  Feb 13, 2006 06:12 PST 


     Do you think the distinguished members of the prestigious 120 Club
know their status/importance?


RE: Back to Will with buried question for Pamela   Pamela Briggs
  Feb 13, 2006 09:44 PST 

Dear Bob --

I think that trees are happy to be recognized and treasured by other
creatures for whatever qualities they are perceived to have.

However, I don't think that trees themselves think that size is one of
the most impressive attributes. Some trees bear tasty fruit; some are
skilled at playing music with the winds; some are good

Have you ever wondered what lists trees might make about us, if they
were into that sort of thing? Trees probably perceive things about us
that we're not even aware of.

Back to Pamela   Robert Leverett
  Feb 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 the
Trees of Peace as they gazed down on me on one of my many visits to
measure/re-measure them. Here is an up-to-date version of an earlier
conversation between the Jake Swamp and Joe Norton Trees, which proves
that trees like to be measured.

Location: Conversation begins one crispy autumn day in the Trees of
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 growing

Jake Swamp: Hey, I got an idea. Quick, Joe, puff up and I'll bend down.
Heíll laser you as the taller of us. Itíll confuse the pizzazers out of
him. Heíll think his precious measurin gizmo's have gone stoopid. He'll
go ape.

Joe Norton: Ah, don't confuse the poor little guy. You know how he
prizes his accuracy with numbers. Heís always boastin about it. Tells
everybody that he knows my height to the inch. Itís a human male thing,
I guess. Besides, if we confuse him, we could make him have a nervous
breakdown. And I kinda like being lazered. Tickles my needles and cones.
OOH, NIIICE! More, Bobby. Left branch. Up a little. Over --- left. Down,
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 there's
more of 'um. Theyíre swarmin around like green flies on ....... Hey,
they're all gonna measure us. Neat! Oooh, that tickles! YEEEHAAA. Címon
Jake, get with it. This is great.

Jake Swamp: All right, all right. I admit. I like it. Laser away down
there all you little twirps. Uh, is that John Eichholz who just arrived?

Joe Norton: Yep! He's gonna Eichholz us, man. You ainít lived until
you've been Eichholzed.

Jake Swamp: Umph! Apparently youíve never been BVPíd, or better yet,
Blozaned. Now that, my brother, is really livin.

Conversation ends with two happy trees.


RE: Back to Pamela   Pamela Briggs
  Feb 13, 2006 14:01 PST 

Dear Bob --

What a great conversation! You obviously know these trees pretty well.
Joe, compassionate and sensitive; Jake, mischievous and cocky. "I asked
my friend Joe, I asked my friend Jake . . . "

I believe trees love being touched, and they enjoy sunlight, so it makes
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?

RE: Back to Pamela   Robert Leverett
  Feb 14, 2006 05:16 PST 


   They are both white pines. Interestingly, Monica finds the Joe Norton
tree more friendly and approachable and Joe was the first of the two
that I really paid attention to. When we visit the grove, Monica always
goes to the Joe Norton tree and sits down at its base. I'm not sure that
I completely understand what she senses the difference to be between
Jake and Joe. At 167.3 feet, Jake is the tallest tree in New England.
So, maybe that's given him an attitude. But Joe's not far behind at
164.2 or there abouts. At one time Joe was the slightly taller of the
two. That was back in November of 1992 when Jack Sobon and I first
measured the two trees with a transit. Before that, I'd only measured
Joe, using crude techniques. Yep, I think that was in 1990. Am I obsessed
or what? When Jack and I measured the two, Joe was 155.6 feet tall and
Jake was 155.3. Joe has suffered more crown damage over the years. At
least I think that is the case. But only Will Blozan knows for sure. He
is the only human who has seen the tops of both trees up close an
personal. Maybe Will can share his recollections of the crowns. He
climbed the Jake Swamp tree in November 1998 and the Joe Norton tree in
Oct 2001. Michael Davie did the climb of Jake in 2001 and BVP climbed
Joe with Will in 2001. That was BVP's first tree climb in New England.

   Incidentally, Jake Swamp is the Akwasasne Mohawk Treaty Chief and
keeper of the trees. Joe is something of a personal friend. He has
visited Mohawk Trail State Forest many times and planted two trees there
for ceremonial purposes. He cites the short version of the history of
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 the Trees
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 has the
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.


Re: Back to Pamela   Edward Frank
  Feb 14, 2006 05:25 PST 

Pam and Bob,

I have never been one to anthropomorphize inanimate objects like cars and
boats. My Tracker does not have a name, nor does my computer. I don't
assign human motivations to wild animals. However I am a big fan of science
fiction and fantasy. There are on notable occasions examples of sentient
trees - the ENTS in LOTR, the Elcrys in Terry Brooks' Shannarra books.
Other stories of people being transformed into trees. Science fiction has
treated sentient trees in more abstract ways. These stories tend to portray
these beings as much like humans only with a longer time-frame point of

What would a sentient tree actually be like? Would it even think in a
manner comprehensible to humans, would there be any common point of
reference? Would we even recognize its thought as intelligent? It seems to
me that we likely would not recognize the tree as sentient. We might assign
all of its actions and thoughts as simple biological processes. All living
things seem to have a response or reaction to threats. All seem to be
driven to reproduce. All are engaged in the search for food. So perhaps we
would have these things in common, but from there where would a tree
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, and we
simply don't recognize the truth.


Re: Back to Will with buried question for Pamela   Michele Wilson
  Feb 14, 2006 05:34 PST 

I assume they know that they can serve as good back scratchers...and they
spend some of their time watching each other's back!
Back to Ed   Robert Leverett
  Feb 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 approach has
usually been to ignore the possibility of anything that cannot be
directly perceived through the use of the 5 senses and their extensions
via instrumentation. But, who would deny the validity of his or her own
thoughts? Yet, try to capture them for verification and study, prove
that they ever existed, beyond the simple observing and recording of
chemical activity in the brain, and humans split up into divergent
camps. Religion, Philosophy, Metaphysics, Parapsychology, Spiritualism,
the Occult, etc. all come in to play. On the more scientific side, Dr.
Michael Perlman believed that trees possess a kind of consciousness,
albeit not of the human variety, that allowed them to respond to us. I
am quite confortable with Mike's concept since I believe that living
things possess an energy field/body that is aware and that is connected
to the physical body until the time of physical death, but is not the
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 of
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 I do
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 subject.
In our discussions, Mike was by far the more adroit thinker of the two
of us. I often struggled to understand how he was seeing tree
consciousness and his concept of a psychological structure mainfested by
trees, although not a human psychological structure.

   Ahhh, ENTS goes Woowoo! YEEEHA!   

RE: Back to Ed   Pamela Briggs
  Feb 14, 2006 15:20 PST 

Dear Ed and Bob --

You bring up intriguing facts and raise fascinating questions. Wouldn't
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 would be
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 chilly --
where's my ax?" I can imagine the tree might have a problem with that.

In the world of my novels, trees have souls. The trees live among
people, and have for many ages, so they understand them. Trees don't
mind being felled if there is true need, because even after the tree is
dead, its soul remains.

The people respect and honor the trees, just as they respect and honor
their own families, and their human ancestors whose bodies are gone.
They recognize how much trees give them, in life and in death, and take
responsibility to keep that relationship going for future generations.

I have no problem accepting that there are non-human intelligences
about, and I don't mind differing opinions. However, to me, the biggest
problem with stating that trees (and plants and animals) are not
intelligent in any respect is the goal behind such a proclamation.
Isn't what is behind such arguments the desire to conclude that -- "this
is not intelligent; therefore, we can do with it whatever we want"?

Humans have a long history of disrespecting the environment. Sadly,
humans have enough problems with respecting other humans!


Tree trunk asymmetery, Macroscope 25, more tree conversations   Robert Leverett
  Feb 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 there?
Pssst! When he gets beneath, let's jiggle our branches and drop some
snow on him.

Joe: Okay. Good plan. Hee, hee....... Hey, why is he just measuring you
with that nice new gizmo? No fair! Okay, Bobby, just you watch out. I'm

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 did like
you best.

Jake: This conversation is beneath my dignity. I refuse to get into old
family matters. ........ A little to the right, Bobby. Ahhhh, yes. Hey,
where's John Eichholz, BVP, and Will Blozan?

Joe: You, you, you ..... CONE HEAD!



RE: Back to Pamela thru Ed   Robert Leverett
  Feb 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, first a
quote from what you wrote: "problem with stating that trees (and plants
and animals) are not intelligent in any respect is the goal behind such
a proclamation. Isn't what is behind such arguments the desire to
conclude that -- 'this is not intelligent; therefore, we can do with it
whatever we want'?". I agree completely. Reducing a thing's intelligence
is a coy human strategy to justify/rationalize its exploitation. Looking
at the state of our environment and how we got to where we are, the
cardinal sin of modern human civilization might be said to be
exploitation. However, I wonder if tree consciousness embraces the
exploitation of an area? If so, which species are the biggest
exploiters? I'll bet Lee Frelich and others would have some interesting
candidates. So, let's see, if one species colonizes more environments
than another and eliminates its competitors, should other tree species
admire, fear, hate, fight, ignore, etc. the dominating species? In your
fictional accounts are there bad trees? Bad species? How does
competition play out. Just wondering. As Monica and I agreed last
evening, you've given us flashes of an incredibly nimble imagination.
Two inquiring minds want to know how your tree being handle competition
among their kind.

   BTW, were you talking about Koko the gorilla? Incredible being!   

Tree Competition: He Had to Ask, Part II   Pamela Briggs
  Feb 16, 2006 13:46 PST 

Dear Bob and Monica --

The people in my novel are spiritual throwbacks, actually -- they live
in an isolated village and never abandoned their reverence for nature.
With no stores, plumbing, or electricity, they must depend on each other
and whatever the Earth provides to survive. They have a gratitude and
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 to ask
the linden tree spirit about all this. He says that there are no "bad"
species or individual trees. When species are invasive, they're not
malicious; just doing what they believe they need to do to survive.
There are misguided, lost, or naive individuals, but they learn. (Some
are slow learners, just like people.)

Trees don't have egos the way humans do. They have an interest in their
own health and the health of the forest as a whole. However, they are
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 people do.
Their model of life is as an interconnected web. A hierarchy is an
animal concept.

Trees are patient. A skimpy growth season doesn't make them panic.
Loss of limbs doesn't devastate trees the way it does people. Trees can
survive droughts, storms, and bitter cold. They trust the Earth to
sustain them and the Sky to bring them sunlight and rain. They stretch
out their roots and branches as much as they're able, but if they're
crowded out, they understand that that is part of the plan. They accept
that their role is not to be the biggest, but to serve in some other

Trees act in service to others, both in life and in death. Whether one
bears fruit for creatures, or is hollowed out and provides a home for
them, each tree is doing its part. They trust Mother Earth and Father
Sky to work out the details, and in the end, provide for everyone.

Trees are not completely fatalistic. They work for their own survival.
They have their defenses, like the trees which, when attacked by certain
insects, cry out to their brothers and sisters in warning so they can
protect themselves. So trees do feel a special kinship with others of
their species.

You might liken the trees in this forest to the people in the little
village it surrounds. Each individual has its own personality. There
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. They have

Yes, I was referring to Koko the signing gorilla, and Nim Chimpsky (get
it?), who was one of the first chimps to learn sign language.

If you're interested in clashes of tree personalities, I can dig up a
link to a story by a Russian writer which is engaging, yet one of the
saddest, most depressing things I've ever read.

The sad Russian tree story   Pamela Briggs
  Feb 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
rest): http://www.ralphmag.org/AH/parliament-trees1.html


Michele Wilson wrote:
hi pamela;
what is the name of the Russian writer's sad story?