I dispense with the usual formalities of conversing and jump right in.
‘So, I see you are flourishing. You must like it here.’
A breeze shifts in the upper branches and they bend toward me.
‘I’ll take that as a yes?’
Leaves rustle softly.
‘The thing is, you are doing well at the expense of others. Have you thought about that? Does it bother you at all?’
A crowd of noisy miners flock to perch above me, picking through the Old Man’s Beard (Tillandsia) and epiphytic orchids at home on the slender trunk. Ants trek upwards in single file. A Golden Orb spider weaves her silken threads between branches.
‘Yes. I see your point,’ I concede. ‘You provide for other creatures, other life forms.’ Trees are never silent, you see. But to hear, one must tune-in to their esoteric arboreal language.
‘However,’ I persist, ‘you must admit, those plants at your feet struggle for a share of sunlight which grows increasingly less as you branch out and reach further skyward,’ I say. While trees are rarely silent, they can be sullen and sulky sometimes. Minutes march past like the ants.
‘Please don’t misunderstand me,’ I say, more conciliatory now, as I wrap my arms around the narrow trunk and lay my cheek against the smooth cool bark.
‘I love the work you do. I love your being here.’ I feel the life force like an energy field surging upwards. ‘And yes, it was me who decided where you would live,’ I reply with insight offered by reflection.
‘I have an idea,’ I say, as a light bulb flicks on. The woman who lives in my head is at home.
Half an hour later, formerly sad little ground orchids look happier in their sunny new home. I brush the dirt from my trowel. The shade-loving hair’s foot ferns nestles at the base of my tree. Striped bromeliads hunker down beside them into the newly vacated space.
I sip my tea and survey a problem resolved, one caused simply by a slip of judgement. I hadn’t given enough thought to the future potential when I planted the sapling. I didn’t listen to my tree’s needs.
My tree and I get on much better these days. So much can be resolved by just having a conversation. Sometimes I am my best listener.
Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.