Sometimes you really click with people. Sometimes a particular group will always seem to like you on first sight. Some do it with older people, some with the opposite gender, I do it with trees. What can I say? I’m a tree charmer.
I’ll say “Hello” to a tree, and I’ll usually hear its voice, from deep within its flesh and emmananting from the very tips of its leaves and the wind that breathes through and around them, respond.
“Hello, Keith, your tunic looks wonderful today.” they’ll say, or “Hi Keith, how’d you do on that test?” or “Good morning, Keith, the rain’s sure coming down, isn’t it?”
I was born and raised in a remote rural town, so there have never been a shortage of trees for me to talk to. I’ve gotten to know so many of them that almost every tree in the forest knows who I am. I never had that many human friends (other children don’t hear the trees), but I’ve never really needed them. The trees have been better company than I could ever ask for (not to mention, people don’t like it when you climb them). Every day, when I have the chance, I’ll go off into the woods near my house, climb the trees, and talk to them.
Trees are very interesting to talk to if you’re able to hear them. They’re far older than the children my age, and they know far more too. Some of the oaks in the forest are centuries old, and they remember everything that happens to them. I’ve found that oaks are a little more stern than the other trees, and much less fond of small talk (they hold grudges like you wouldn’t believe too). However, I’ve gotten into some deep philosophical discussions with the oaks, and when I needed help with some deep problem, they offered quite wise advise.
The apple trees have been quite happy to give me their fruit, and I can always go to them when I’m unhappy. They’re great listeners, you know, and very compassionate. They always know how to make my feel better and how to resolve issues. If you ever learn how to talk to the trees, get an apple tree. They can be one of your greatest comforts in the world.
There are also some cherry trees nearby. They’re good-natured too, but they’re also quite mischievous. They love to drop their fruit on my head if they know I won’t mind, and they tell me every joke they can possibly think of or have ever heard. Believe me when I say that cherry trees have a lot of jokes to tell. Some of them are funny, some not so much, but I enjoy the company of the cherry trees. I’ll sometimes spend hours sitting on a cherry tree’s branch, munching on its fruit, laughing at its jokes, pondering its riddles, and singing along with its ditties.
The pine trees have never been the most interesting of folk, if I’m being honest. They’re a bit shallow, and don’t aspire or imagine all that much. What they lack in depth and imagination, however, they make up for in loyalty and memory. Some of my best friends are pines. They seem genuinely interested in everything I say to them (a bit surprising, considering their relative age/longevity), and they will remember every birthday, every joke, every story, every name, and anything else I’ll tell them. Sometimes they’ll advise me with stories of times I’ve long forgotten, and it’ll teach me more than any platitude or parable ever could’ve. Not to mention, in the winter, when the other trees go to sleep, the pines will still be wide awake and ready to talk as ever.
However, among all of my friends, there’s one tree in the forest that’s, for lack of a better word, different. It’s a beautiful tree, it’s almost as tall as the oaks, but with many low branches coming from the trunk. Its leaves have the most vivid hues in the autumn, and the liveliest greens in the spring. It casts a comforting shadow, and should be the one I would love to climb the most. However, there’s always a feeling when I see it that it doesn’t belong. I know it shouldn’t be here at all, but it is, regardless. It may have something to do with the fact that neither me nor my friends can identify its species or its age. We can’t even remember when, or how, it came here. Even the oldest trees can’t remember how it came to be in this forest.
Up until recently, it never even spoke. However, it has spoken recently. I was walking in the forest when I saw it nearby. It made me slightly nervous, as always, but I tried to be friendly. Every time I’ve seen the tree, I’ve tried to greet it, and that day was no exception. When I called out to it though, I heard something come from the tree. It was a distant sound, something like music, but something like screams as well. I heard a single, low hum over the high scream-songs, and some vague susurrations throughout the whole thing. It didn’t seem to form anything coherent, but then, before going silent once again, the sounds grew much louder, and I heard all of those many sounds form one word.