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Just finished worming my way through the maze of hidden wonders that constitutes Peter Wohlleben’s bestseller: The Hidden Life of Trees. It’s take me some weeks to get to the middle of it and back out again to where I started, by which, I’m not implying that it was a dull ride – far from it! This is a book to savour – to be chewed through slowly, bit by bit, being sure to miss nothing!
For several weeks, I have fed upon this book; it has been everywhere with me! Everytime I have set foot outside my cave, I’ve been in the company of Wohlleben’s words. Every time I’ve had a minute to spare, I’ve sat down and absorbed another two or three pages. And the rest of the time? The rest of the time, I’ve been bouncing around my hometown, and the villages beyond (sometimes, even as far afield as Shropshire) examining roots and tree trunks. Just take a look at these beauties!
I’ve captured trees under attack from all kinds of beasts and man (i.e. all beasts). Trees with their bark peeled off, their tops lopped off, their insides consumed, arms twisted, and skin infected.
And, on in every paragraph of the greatest book about trees of all time, I’ve seen analogies between all things woody and all things weird and wonky – my smile, for example!
Take this quote, with reference to beech trees: ‘Apparently, the trees synchronise their performance so that they all equally successful.’ (p.15) The total antithesis of the modern workplace, in which the self-promoted stretch out their executive branches to starve the meek of any sunlight!
Full of my own sense of wellness, after a woody walk and a read, I had every intention of bounding into my office, on the next workday, to suggest to the boss that he send the whole staff to a German forest for a team-building-log-cabin residential course. The beech trees, with Peter as translator, would do a splendid job of leading the sessions.
Fortunately, on turning to the next page, I read that ‘Huddling together is desirable’ (p.16), and had a change of plan! ‘Huddling’ in close proximity to my colleagues being, in my view, totally undesirable! And huddling with the boss? No, no, no! Absolutely not! If a storm’s brewing, I’m keeping my distance!
In the end, I concluded that it might be a safer bet to use some of the analogies in my stories and poems. Hence, during the course of reading the book, in empathy with trees who suffer when their bark is picked off by no-gooders, I knocked out what I thought was a work of fictional genius, and sent this short story off to a publisher – it was rejected! What cheek! Luckily, you, my SSSS** readers are a lot more discerning, and recognise the good stuff when you see it. So, here it is: Quantum Coupling: A Short Story.
Now that you have read ‘Quantum Coupling’ (i.e. go back and read all of it), I will leave you with Wohlleben’s concluding sentences:
‘And who knows, perhaps one day the language of trees will eventually be deciphered, giving us the raw material for further amazing stories. Until then, when you take your next walk in the forest, give free rein to your imagination – in many case, what you imagine is not far removed from reality, after all!’ (p.245)
Get real! And get reading!
Copyright of book review, the associated short story and all photographs, owned by Jay Cool, June 2019
** Reference to The Silly-Savvy Salopian in Suffolk, i.e. SSSS.
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