You remember the Old Forest on the borders of Buckland? Folk used to say there was something in the water that made the trees grow tall and come alive. Trees that could whisper, talk to each other, even move.Merry
Reality within fiction
Sometimes folk stories are not only fairy stories, sometimes they do have a bearing in something real, although it may sound fantastical.
Trees really do communicate with each other through the ground.
About two decades ago, an ecologist by the name of Suzanne Simard was researching her doctoral thesis. The point of her thesis was to show how trees communicate with each other. They do this by a network of latticed fungi that are buried in the soil.
These fungi are a so-called pipeline between trees. In order to communicate with one another, all trees construct symbiotic cooperation with these fungi.
It is this pipeline that connects one tree root with another, helping each other send warning signs about environmental changes, their search for relations and aiding neighboring plants before they die.
To make the exchange possible, threads expand through the soil. Due to the lack of photosynthesis underground, the fungi are unable to acquire all the nutrients needed to survive. Therefore, the trees supply them with sugar and other nutrients they need, produced by photosynthesis. In return, the fungi bring nutrients and water to the trees.
Respect for all living things
This is incredible research and a wonderful undertaking to help us not only understand the mysteries of Mother Nature but to also respect her as the living being she is.
Tolkien made it a point of depicting Nature as something very much alive and sentient. The need for all of us, from birds to plants, to respect each other`s living spaces and treat one another with care and love. His introduction of the Ents is very much the epitome of his point – the endangerment of Nature and our need of preserving her.
In the Fellowship of the Ring, as Saruman`s foul armies are cutting down the trees that surround Isengard, apart from the sound of falling timber, there is another sound. There is an audible cry that every tree utters as it is being wounded with axes of the enemy.
Sorrow and agony in these voices give me goosebumps, allowing empathy to run freely through my body. A sad moment, given the fact that Saruman, supposedly, the wisest of all wizards of Middle-Earth, had contracted these foul beasts to burn and break the very spirit of Nature.
I am no tree, I am an Ent. Treebeard some call me.Treebeard
It is a point of pride not only being a tree but being an Ent. As he booms at them, one could think he might have found this categorization as an offense. As a shepherd of the forest, he is serious in ridding his forest from any kind of enemy, or anyone he hasn`t heard about.
Since everyone Treebeard encounters is of smaller stature than his own, it is easier to run them down or simply banish them from his forest. Orc, orc maggots or goblins are simply identifiable creatures for whom he doesn`t have any patience. He simply squashes them, when he finds them roaming his woods.
The Hobbits, however, are a different breed. Although he has never met any of their kind, he is extremely suspicious, coming to an immediate conclusion they should be treated as badly as orcs. However, Merry and Pippin try reasoning with him, trying to persuade him that they really aren`t orcs. As Treebeard himself isn`t sure of this, he needs a second opinion.
Pippin: “And whose side are you on?“
Treebeard: “Side? I am on nobody`s side, because nobody is on my side, little Orc. “
Merry and Pippin know more about the outside world than Treebeard does, because of their journey so far. They are aware of the different sides that have started to form in the wake of the disturbance that is taking over Middle-Earth. So it is of no surprise they ask Treebeard which side he has taken in the whole mess. He, however, leaves himself out of the commotion, neutralizing his position, in essence becoming Switzerland.
Nobody cares for the woods anymore.Treebeard
A sad realization. In Tolkien`s time, the woods, his green hills have been taken over by the rise of industry, rendering everything that grew, insignificant. Nature was never more than an obstacle to the Man. In order to expand his living space, he had to gain more ground. And since Nature couldn’t defend herself, she became an easy adversary.
Fear and anger
They come with fire, they come with axes. Gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning. Destroyers and usurpers! Curse them!Treebeard
A clear and terrifying description of what angers and terrifies Treebeard. If Nature had a voice, it would be his. There are various ways in which his woods are destroyed, without mercy, without a guilty conscience.
They are mostly helpless as these terrible deeds are being brought upon them. They need someone on their side, someone powerful, someone like Saruman. He used to walk in these woods and enjoy them, but alas, his mind was poisoned by the greed for power.
Fangorn or Treebeard, as he is more commonly known, is an amazing animated creature. John Rhys-Davies gives voice to Treebeard. However, it is an homage to the voice of C. S. Lewis, who was Tolkien`s friend and colleague. His voice was once described as booming, much like the “bru-ra-hroom” Treebeard often inflects.
Gollum, Frodo and Sam have reached the Dead Marshes. It is a turning point in the relationship between Gollum and Frodo. Read on in my next post.
Featured photo by Ana Segota.