At Home With Nature

Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees

Have you ever hugged a tree? And have you wondered if it might be aware of you hugging it? If you are the type of person who might entertainment such a question, I have a book recommendation for you: Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees.

After hearing an interview with Wohlleben, I hurried to find a copy of this book.

Wohlleben’s backstory is an interesting one. He went into forest management thinking he was going to be taking care of trees – a logical assumption that most of us would also make. He found instead that his role was more like that of a butcher: “forest management” meant a lot of cutting.

While spending time in the woods, Wohlleben made some startling observations, such as when he noticed that an old stump cut down hundreds of years ago was still alive. His questions grew, including questioning his role as a forest manager, and he began to do research to find the answers his questions. What he found is the substance of his book, in short, easily digestible chapters that describe different facets of how trees feel, make decisions, and support each other.

A community of conifers

I had a kindly view of trees before, but reading Wohlleben’s book I learned to look at trees in ways I wouldn’t have imagined. Like us, trees make decisions, have preferences, and sometimes make mistakes. Unlike us, they exist in a longer, slower time-frame.

The Hidden Life of Trees will increase your understanding of these magnificent living beings – ones we unthinkingly turn into furniture, toilet paper, and mulch to spread around our petunias.

One of the reasons I love this book is that I am always trying to deepen my connections to nature. Learning about the natural world helps me take focus off my small, petty human worries. It fills me with wonder. I think if more of us stopped focusing on ourselves and starting focusing on the living, natural world around us, we’d be in much better shape both individually, and as a society.

Have you read this book already? What astounded you the most about it? Let me know in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

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