Interview with a tree

By Dawn De Busk

Writer’s footnote: Obviously, this is a parody of those times when I am asking too many questions and not truly listening. It is a parody in which I make fun of the habit of moving too quickly through life’s moments. Actually, I am equally capable of times of silence and getting recharged through nature. I have been known to walk into the forest and sit still in the presence of a tree to get the answers I need without asking any questions.

As a journalist, I revel in on-the-spot news coverage. It is so awesome to record what is happening at the moment — the here and now.

For this edition of The Bridgton News, green-up rates are a timely news event. By definition, green-up is the point in the springtime when leaves on trees open fully; and, it’s happening right at this minute.

This week and last, area firefighters have breathed a big sigh of relief that the weather gods have finally sent rain to Maine. Now, green-up draws closer. Earlier, the dry debris on the forest floor and the leafless trees — along with the warm, windy conditions — had contributed to an early and feisty fire season. The wildfires were triple that of any normal year. But, Mainers will be out of the woods soon because once the leaves on the trees burst out, that fire-cautious period falls away.

Therefore, green-up tumbles into the category of a happy occasion for me; and, it is most enjoyable to report upon. That being said — in honor of green-up as well as the 50-year anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson who had tremendous environmental and poetic ties to the State of Maine — this is what I am going to do. I have decided it is most appropriate to interview a tree.

Originally, when I pitched this assignment idea to my editor, I had considered interviewing the bug population. I had planned to talk to a deer tick or two. I thought I would engage in some small chat about how well this winter had treated them. Also, I had planned to go to the swamp, and interview the head nurse of the mosquito nursery and ask about this year’s mortality rates.

However, I later concluded it would be best to narrow my focus — interviewing a few of the flora who were experiencing green-up.

From there, the plan was to sit down with the tree before green-up, and have an in-depth, down-to-earth, one-on-one conversation. As I walked through the forest, I noticed some plants and shrub brush had passed green-up successfully. Purple violets reminded me not to step on their friends who had emerged a few weeks ago. A group of unfurled ferns giggled, saying that fiddlehead lovers would not eat them in delicious dishes this spring.

“We have unfurled under the sun’s rays,” the ferns said in their sing-song voices.

Then came the moment when I had the grandest honor to interview a tree.

Q: How old are you?

A: Roughly 75 years old. Some days, I feel much older. As old as the earth under which my roots are spread. Other days, I feel as young as the dandelions and wild roses.

Q: What is green-up like?

A: Well, it happens every year. It all depends on the weather — sometimes it happens sooner and other times, it happens later.

Q: Are you certain green-up will happen for you? And if so, when?

A: Yes, I am certain because it happens every year. And, no, I don’t know when.

Q: So, what are you doing until then?

A: Waiting.

Q: Okay. You know, what I like about trees is that they give people oxygen. And, I like oxygen. In fact, I need oxygen. Another thing in particular that I like about trees is how they give a perspective to the rising moon. Sometimes, I have to move around to get into the right space where I can see the moon or the entire Big Dipper perfectly. So, how is green-up going?

A: Fine, I guess.

Q: Are you still waiting?

A: Yes.

Q: For what?

A: For green-up, of course.

Q: No, I mean what needs to occur so that green-up arrives for you?

A: For me, for all the leaves in the trees around here, it’s the right timing. You know — the right amount of rain and the right amount of warmth. That is all my leaves need. It’s called photosynthesis. I am sure you have read about it.

Q: Yeah, sure I have. But, it doesn’t really look like your leaves have changed much. Should I come back another time?

A: No, stay. Wait, and be quiet. You aren’t looking close enough. My leaves have changed. The growth of my leaves makes a noise, too. But, it’s too subtle for you to hear because you are asking too many questions.

Q: So, do you mean to tell me that green-up has already happened? Did I miss it?

A: Not yet. But, don’t blink.

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