Early this morning, Justine, my stepson’s girlfriend, a prolific and inspiring Facebook-posting person, posted an image of a hand-drawn note entitled “Advice From A Tree”.
Once again, Justine has inspired me. I can’t resist adding 7 more thoughts I think a tree might want to share:
• STAY CONNECTED TO LOVED ONES.
There are scientists actually studying what amounts to trees (and other plants) communicating with each other, or more to the point, sharing information with each other. What we do know without a doubt is that plants under attack from a pest will give off a volatile chemical which other plants nearby register and respond to with various defense mechanisms to protect themselves. Plants can also communicate through mycorrhizal associations–the underground fungal networks that link the roots of various plants. To read more about this, check out the BBC’s Earth article about how “Fungi have been called ‘Earth’s natural internet'”.
• GIVE TO THOSE IN NEED.
Trees are very generous sharers. In fact, oaks are the ultimate sharers. Their leaves sustain the most amount of caterpillars of any tree species in North America.
• STAY HUMBLE.
A tree always hides its biggest leaves. The leaves you see on the outside of its canopy are smaller. That’s because leaves that are constantly in shade get less light needed for photosynthesis. So they have to be larger.
• LIVE LONG AND PROSPER.
OK, Leonard Nemoy said it first. But trees live by these words, too. In fact, there’s a clonal colony of Quaking Aspen trees in Utah that is 80,000 years old. The forest is actually one living plant connected by roots. To see a photo of it, and more, check out this very cool TED Talks presentation by artist/citizen scientist Rachel Sussman on The World’s Oldest Living Things. (The half-million-year-old bacteria is pretty cool, too.)
• BE FLEXIBLE.
A palm tree can bend at an angle up to 50 degrees without snapping–a trick that comes in handy during a tropical storm.
• REMEMBER TO BREATHE.
Urban trees are often called the lungs of a city because they refresh the air around them, improving air quality by directly removing polluting emissions.
• STAY COOL.
Trees actually lower the air temperature around them not only because they cast shade but, through the process of transpiration, their leaves release water which is evaporated, cooling the surrounding air.
The poster that Justine posted may or may not be an edited version of an original prose poem by Ilan Shamir. But as an internet meme, these ideas have been enthusiastically shared, rewritten, edited and expanded upon, drawn, painted, and typeset. Why not join the party and add your own thoughts? Goodness knows, the world could use more advice from a tree.