Tree Talk


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There is a pair of date palms growing in the neighbors’ back yard. Every time I go for a run I walk the length of the back parking lot to cool down and I often find myself looking up into the fronds of these trees as I turn to head back. At some point I did this without my headphones on. It was probably over the summer when I was searching for the mental quietude to think my own thoughts for a few minutes before going back to being consumed by production minutiae. I realized, in one of these quiet moments that even a slight breath of wind moving through the fronds of these trees gave them a quiet rustling “voice” that didn’t speak a word yet seemed somehow to communicate to me.

It became a habit for me to stop for a minute or two during every cool down to just hear what the trees had to say. I sometimes think about recording it, but I’m not sure it would be possible to isolate it. The main landing approach to LAX goes right overhead and the drone of approaching and receding aircraft is nearly constant. If it isn’t air traffic then it is car traffic on the nearby street. If it isn’t local traffic it is the sounds of the highway: whatever highway is in the direction of the prevailing winds. And then there is the wind itself: the trees are only moved to speak when the winds move them, but too much wind and the trees’ voices are overpowered by it. And all that the microphone would hear is buffeting.

Perhaps I have to accept that there are sounds that can be heard but cannot be captured the same way that the eye can see things that the camera cannot. And maybe that’s ok: maybe that’s the reason why it’s important to learn how to listen to things because not everything can be saved. Just a thought.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on December 20, 2015.

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