I dream of trees
by Donald K. Sanders
I’ve been dreaming about trees. In these dreams, the trees talk to me and tell me things. Some of these dreams are upsetting to say the least. It’s not the trees that upset me, it’s the things that they tell me. They tell me things of nature and history, great things, worthy of my thought. They tell me things of man’s relationship with the whole of nature, but from their perspective.
They told me why God made trees before he made man. They told me what the Earth was like before man came and what happened after he came. They told me what they thought of man, and what he has done and what they hope he will do.
The history of man is just a small part of the history of trees. At one time, the trees and man could communicate but that’s gone now, no one knows why. Now trees can only communicate with man’s spirit, mostly in his dreams. When asleep, the trees can talk to us as if we were one of them, a part of them, a part of nature. In the daylight, when we’re awake, we look at trees and we can see that they want to tell us something, but we just can’t seem to hear them.
They came to my dreams because I’m a man of words. The trees have asked me to convey to you what they wish you to understand about them. Of course, you’ll have to remember that these are not my words but those of the trees I see in my dreams. This is what they tell me:
They send you greetings and hope that you will hear and understand what they’re trying to say. They will try to keep it simple at first, hoping that even the youngest of men will know that they speak the truth. It is very important to them that we understand exactly what they want us to know.
They are afraid of man. They are in a state of constant fear of what man will do to this Earth. They say that at one time the flow of ideas was freely given, and taken with a mutual love and respect between man and the trees. Man, all of a sudden, stopped talking to them and they don’t know exactly why. The trees were confused, bewildered and at a loss of what to do about it. At this time, the history of the trees split away from the history of man.
Through the passing of days, man started mistreating the trees, depriving them of food and water and destroying great swathes of trees so man could move about more quickly. Man built great machines to help them destroy the trees at an ever-growing rate. The trees thought man could no longer see them as living things. To save themselves, the only thing the trees could do is move away from man, but trees take years to do what man can do in a day.
You can imagine how afraid the trees had become and to make matters worse, man no longer wanted to live among the trees and considered them a nuisance and in the way of their progressive movement. Man had begun to consider trees and animals as tools to be used at his will, cut down and slaughtered when they saw fit. So you see, it was easy for the trees to move away from man, one seed at a time.
Once the trees have moved away from man, the animals and water soon followed but their rate of travel was faster, so the movement was noted by man. Man argued and argued about what should be done. With delays and inaction, relatively little was actually done until man was alone with the soil that had no nourishment for him and could not hold the moisture that man needs to survive.
At this point, even the soil wanted to leave, and it too feared man. The soil looked to the wind to carry it up and away from man. When the winds came, the soil lifted itself a grain of sand at a time until the air was as heavy as the land moving around in swirls. The swirls of soil made man cover his eyes and thirst for water and shade, of which there was none. Man was now alone. Man started to die.
The trees and the soil and the water knew that if man died then a great part of themselves would die as well. Despite their immense fear of man, the trees turned and went to save man from himself and his destructive nature. Again, the trees moved a seed at a time, slowly, slowly. The water carried the seed and the soil that would bring life back to man.
With the aid of the water, great fertile flood plains where the trees would grow strong and tall arose out of the dead land. The trees, in their quest to save man rushed (in their own pace) to fill the voids where they had lived many years ago. Every kind of tree and every kind of plant once again thrived and turned the Earth to a lush green. It was beautiful.
The trees and plants came in such great numbers that soon it became a mess. The roots of one tree was choking the next plant until they both became sick and began to die. The insects attacked the sick plants and some of the plants had no defense. In their rush to save man, the plants found themselves in places that were not healthy for them. They found that the wrong kinds of plants in the wrong place was causing great sickness that would spread and eventually everything, the trees, the soil, the water, and man would soon perish.
In my mind somewhere, I could see the sun rising. I knew I had to hurry any questions I had for the trees, so I said, “Why, with man’s history, did you want to save them and why did you choose to communicate with me?” The tree told me that I am not the first man that they communicated with. There were many before me, all around me. I knew instantly that they had visited the dreams of people like Rich and Libby, and Carol, and Sara, and John because they were already working to save the plants by separating them into native and non-native plants and putting them where they belong. In jest, I told the tree that that was a terrible run-on sentence.
I had lost my faith in man but if even the plants can see that man was capable of great acts of kindness, goodness, and even nobility, then I could see it as well. With the coming of the sun, I put on my work boots and went to seek out those that came before me (Rich and Libby) to find my task of the day, watering, planting, or fertilizing the trees. Whatever, I don’t care what task I’m given, because I want to save the trees and the trees want to save me.