If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? I’m just a dog, I didn’t come up with that question! But I must say, a lot of trees have fallen recently, so I guess it is a question that would come up at some point. And my humans have been talking about how loud trees must be, and what a big thud! or crack! they must make, when they fall. But if no one is there to hear it…? Do trees have ears? Are they sad when their fellow trees fall?

That’s a lot to think about. I don’t know about sounds and vibrations, but I do know that the smells are different around trees that have fallen – all crisp and woody and fresh, and the earth smells strongly and you can even smell the leave and needles of the trees. It’s a wonderful perfume of the forest!

Sometimes one tree falls and it hits another tree, and before you know it there’s a bunch of sideways trees

What about those trees that fall, or are chopped down? Is that the end of their life? In one way yes, but there is magic in a forest. Everything is connected in life, and in a forest you can see it with your own eyes.  When a tree falls or is cut down, what is left becomes the foundation for another life to grow right on top of it. The forest represents an ongoing cycle of life and death and rebirth. That soft floor of the forest that we walk on is the product of many generations; you can almost feel the changing and growing underfoot.

This tree was once a little seed, and then a seedling. It landed on top of the stump of a very, very, very old tree. But that old stump had all the nourishment that the seedling needed, along with a little water and sun, to help it grow.

You see that horizontal notch on the root of the old tree? That was a notch that a logger made in the tree, so he could get a foothold to cut the tree down. That could have been more than 100 years ago. There was also a fire in that big old tree at one time (it’s true, this is how we spend our days, exploring and wondering about the history of the forests we hike in). It would be interesting if that old log could talk and tell us about its life.

That old tree on the bottom is called a nurse log, because as it decayed, it nourished the new tree that is growing on top. Along with water and nutrients from the earth, a nurse log provides many things that a new tree needs to grow. Of course, lots of other things grow on nurse logs; lichens and ferns and little bushes all find nurse logs a good place to settle in for the long haul – in some cases for hundreds of years. 

This nurse log is host to three trees:

Maybe its a nurse log condo association. Each tree has grown little roots all over the surface of the original tree

all the way down to the earth

Sometimes the nurse log disintegrates completely, leaving some curious shapes behind. You can imagine where the nurse log used to be here:

That tree got it’s roots firmly in the ground by the time the nurse log said goodbye. This tree, however, wasn’t so lucky:

When I looked closely, I saw that it too had grown on a very big old log, and when the wind blew, the tree started rocking, and it and the log rolled over together!! It is hard to see in the photo, so I had Caryn outline it in red for you:

I guess it’s a good idea for your roots to dig into the good earth when you’re a tree, even if you get help starting out from a nurse log. If you would like to read more about nurse logs, check out this link!

Now…..back to that question…..If a tree falls in the forest…..I need to tuck my head in and think about that one. What do you think?

Enjoy life, and be safe, and take care of all your loved ones! xox, Tashi