I go to bed early. At around 1am I wake up, the winds are ferocious. My window is always open, secured by the screen window that holds the glass windows in place.  I enjoy the gentle flow of fresh air that reaches through my sleeping area. The trees that enclose my backyard are full blown in the open field as the yard is on the outer ring of the little village. A few big oaks, maple, beech and apple trees sway and swing. I love the sound, even though it keeps me awake for a while. I think about “TheSoundscape, our sonic environment and the tuning of the world” written by R.Murray Schafer in 1977. A book that, when I first read it, changed my being in this world. One idea  discussed in the book, is that each tree creates its own specific soundtrack, based on the organization and shape of its leaves; becoming aware of it makes that you never ignore the trees in your surrounding. 

Schafer put sound on ‘the map’ and I was sad to hear about his passing a few weeks ago. Sound as a source of knowledge, as a means of communication at all levels. 

Trees in the northern Frisian landscape beyond my backyard, a landscape that would be a delta if not for the dykes along the coast. Flatland, grassland, the trees are an anomaly. Villages and Isolated farmhouses cordoned by trees, to break the wind. Traversing the land on my bike I always wonder why there are so little trees along the roads to make it a little easier. When one of my neighbors tells me about the Dutch Elm disease that decimated the tree population, I begin to understand. It is so, it is not easy, and it lead to the formation of the tree watch, can organization to manage and prevent the die back of trees in the region. Since the 1990’s the Elm has been hit hard. Elm trees were then replaced by Ash trees, a managerial decision. Ash trees were thereafter hit by a fungus, going by the beautiful name of Chalara fraxinea, that since 2012 invaded the ash tree population in the region. Transported by wind, Chalara settles on all parts of the Ash, where it feeds freely. 

It sounds all too familiar, forest management and reforestation through planting of fast growing species, often those that take over native species, and/or deplete resources. Short-term thinking. What we need is diversity, not just to keep keep parasitic behavior in check. Somehow it remains a difficult concept, especially in policy. 

The wind has died down, I doze off, arboreal whispers linger on…important messages transpire.