And one thing that I came to realize is that at least in an area like Chicagoland, humans tightly control the reproduction of trees.
I live on a lovely tree-lined street. Big trees - 100 ft tall or more. Maples, oaks, ash....but there are no baby trees, except for smallish trees that the city plants when they have to remove diseased trees (such as all the ash trees, under assault from ash borers).
It makes me sad to think of how impoverished my immediate surroundings are, how unnatural. We don't even let trees - majestic living things that make our lives possible, that live through many of our own generations - live out natural life cycles.
In fact, I have come to accept that trees planted singly along streets to enhance our lives are really just ornaments. If "a man is not an island" then certainly a tree is not a forest. And very few trees live naturally outside of forests of many, many trees.
Well, enough of sadness. Veva and I were sitting on our patio last week, enjoying the (finally) warm weather and our lovely garden (thanks to Veva), when she pointed out something truly wonderful:
Can you see it? We planted the birch trees years ago. They are now 40 feet tall, but nestled in between? A natural born baby birch tree! Can't see it? Here maybe this will help:
I feel so much better now. The (minimal) wildness of our garden (as in: no grass) made it possible for a birch seed to take hold and grow. A tree that humans did not plant and hopefully will allow to grow to maturity.
Humans love to debate things like "Do plants feel?" Of course, it is terribly difficult for us to imagine such a thing - because the way that plants would think and feel would be so different from us. So we will likely never really be able to answer the question.
Which means it would make a lot more sense to err on the side of caution and assume that trees and plants and creatures do feel, do think in their own way, do take joy in life.
And watching this natural born tree grow, it is certainly easy to believe that it is joyful. I sure am.