I’m sleeping with the enemy.
I’m a tree-hugger, and my husband builds roads. I’ve been looking for the smoking gun online – some article or data that identifies road construction as the #1 cause of deforestation, but all I can find is this quote:
“The best thing you could do for the Amazon is to bomb all the roads.” Dr. Eneas Salati, Technical Director, Brazilian Institute for Sustainable Development
Sounds like some Monkey Wrench Gang -type sabotage to me.
My friend Suzanne recently pointed out that roads are tree graveyards and asked this pernicious question: “What if trees could come back and haunt those who cut them down?”
I think I found member #2 of my monkey wrench gang.
Now, I don’t want trees haunting my husband, but there’s something about sentient plants that captures the imagination.
Certainly, the nicest of all must be The Giving Tree (don’t cry). All the other plant people are real jerks in comparison.
There’s Audrey II, from the Little Shop of Horrors. She’s no Giving Tree. But she wasn’t vengeful, just hungry. “Feed me, Seymour!”
There’s the Ents (thus the name of this post), from the Lord of the Rings, who definitely were out for revenge. Did you see what they did to Saruman? The Ents’ job was to protect the other trees – guardians of the forest.
Which is different from the Guardians of the Galaxy, who also have an alien supertree – Groot. He can only say “I am Groot,” but he can transform from potted plant to fighting giant at a moment’s notice. What wouldn’t I give to fling a potted plant at my enemies and have it turn into a superhero?
In Little, Big, a novel I read for the fifth or so time recently, one character turns into a tree at the end – he becomes so slow, so rooted in his landscape, so indifferent and chill, that he just leafs right out and never moves again. We’ve all been there.
Another good book with woodland mythology is Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood, a fantasy novel set in a forest inhabited by mythological creatures. It won the World Fantasy Award (like Little, Big ) in 1985.
There’s the Green Man (rarely do you see tree women), legendary symbol of spring rebirth from multiple cultures, gracer of garden gates and old churches, leaves in his hair and mouth pouring water.
And there’s the Wild Man or woodwose/wodewose/wodwo. He’s hairy, like Bigfoot, reverting to nature with vines in his hair, dirt under his nails. As in the poem “Going Wodwo” by Neil Gaiman, in his story collection Fragile Things that I’m reading right now. Here’s an excerpt (because I’m not sure if I’m allowed to share more):
“I’ll leave the way of words to walk the wood
I’ll be the forest’s man, and greet the sun,
And feel the silence blossom on my tongue
The other day, I was sitting quietly at the park with my kids and found myself admiring a well-shaped juniper tree. I thought, she has really nice hair.
And so it begins.