Heading out for a hike this weekend? Going deep into a forest or skirting the edges of one? As you trot along, stop. Look at the trees. Not just the tops, but the trunk and the roots.
In our childhood, trees were these amazing things that we climbed. As high as we could get. Perhaps we dared our friends to climb higher? Perhaps we swung from them on a tire or a rope, splashing into a lake. In autumn they’d show us amazing colours. In winter they were bare bones.
You may be surprised however, to learn that trees are amazing, living things. They talk to each other and they will even help each other heal when they are sick! Wait what? Trees connect to each other not just through their roots, but they use various kinds of fungi. Trees send messages to each other through fungi and in return, the trees help feed the fungi. Think of it as a tree “internet” and they have a lot to chat about!
They also provide a home to various birds when they’re living and when they’re dead. Small holes will suffice for little birds and as the tree rots a bit on the inside, a hole may eventually be large enough for an owl or a family of squirrels!
Sometimes, when you see a tree with a big gaping wound and black stuff, it means it has been invaded by a nasty bacteria or fungus. Sometimes, trees can recover and push the invaders out, over many decades, other times, they succumb and die.
Their canopies, so very high up, shelter not just birds, but an entire ecosystem of bugs, from spiders to mites. Which in turn provide food for birds. On a cold winters night, often you can hear the snap of trees…that’ moisture in the trunks freezing and it hurts trees.
Want to dive deeper into the life of trees? Read the book “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben and trust me, you’ll never look at trees the same way again! So next time you’re out on a hike or a trail run, take a moment and look at the trees around you. It can be quite an experience.
More Inspiration: Maybe you’ll want a nice cup of tea after your hike? Check out these 4 healing teas in this article.
Author: Alexa Hurst is a staff writer for Silver and Optimyz Magazines based in Halifax, Canada.