I’m not a big forest person, more your empty horizon kind of woman, but my “church” is an old Colorado Juniper and my best painting so far is a painting of a tree, so you see it’s not from any antipathy toward trees at all. Not that I don’t like forests; I do, it’s just that sooner or later I want to see the WHOLE sky.
As a kid I hiked in a forest that lined the Missouri River. It was all trees all the time, varieties I can’t even identify now because I was too young then to have or develop the skills, but there were oak, black walnut, mulberry, sumac, some pine, willow, cottonwood and godnose what other hardwood trees never appeared again in my life
In the Laguna Mountains in California, the second leg of most of my hikes involved a leisurely stroll through a grove of Jeffry Pine I called “the Enchanted Forest.” The trees stood tall and straight above a grassy field that sloped slowly toward a ravine. Tall trees were one of the sweet wonders of that hike. In the compilation below, you can see it in the middle photo of the top row.
Along the coast, though, the only tall, native trees were native oaks and sycamore with willow and cottonwood sprinkled in Riparian areas. I learned hiking in the coastal chaparral hills to see things in miniature; the landscape was even called ‘the elfin forest.” If I let my imagination see this, I could imagine very very tiny beings (well there are some very very tiny beings) leading arboreal lives among the Wild Lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus). I even found a 9 inch “Half Dome” that a very tiny climber would have struggled to climb. Seriously. It looked very much like that famous rock in Yosemite.
While the San Luis Valley isn’t really “burdened” with trees, along the edges, in the mountains, pine and aspen do their jobs cleaning the air and providing shade and food (and hiding places).
We owe trees everything, and, it seems, (who’s surprised?) that trees communicate with each other.
Since Darwin, we have generally thought of trees as striving, disconnected loners, competing for water, nutrients and sunlight, with the winners shading out the losers and sucking them dry. The timber industry in particular sees forests as wood-producing systems and battlegrounds for survival of the fittest.https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-whispering-trees-180968084/
There is now a substantial body of scientific evidence that refutes that idea. It shows instead that trees of the same species are communal, and will often form alliances with trees of other species. Forest trees have evolved to live in cooperative, interdependent relationships, maintained by communication and a collective intelligence similar to an insect colony. These soaring columns of living wood draw the eye upward to their outspreading crowns, but the real action is taking place underground, just a few inches below our feet.
The scientist who’s posited this lives in Europe where forests are (to me) different from the forests of the “new world” at least they feel different to me. In the forest of Zürich’s “home mountain,” the Zürichberg, below the Zoo, above the Glatt was/is an enormous tree that seemed to be the grandfather of everything. His branches reached so high that, though the forest was dark, light reached the ground. Under his spreading branches, new trees had the chance to grow and shade-loving wildflowers. All around, though, were pine needles and shadow. The only things growing in those forever-shaded places were amanita muscaria mushrooms, beautiful but dangerous to eat. I put that tree in my book Martin of Gfenn. I’ll share that passage since I don’t have a photo of the Grandfather Tree.
[Martin] came upon a tree that had outreached the competitive struggle of the maple, birch and pine behind it. A magnificent giant with a wide trunk of lucent green, awash in light, its lowest branches so far above the lower growth that they pulled sunlight to the wildflowers on the forest floor. Martin sat with his back against the tree. Above the highest branches, blue sky faded to lavender.