Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EST November 16th 2020

Twenty-two people (including two new participants!), from Canada, Greece, ME, MI, NJ, NY, PA, OR, and UT, gathered via Zoom to discuss a prose passage from A Low and Quiet Sea (2018) by Donal Ryan, posted below. Participants imagined a parent talking to a child before bedtime. Some heard a mother speaking; others a father. One felt the narrator was speaking to her and then felt disappointed when, at the last line, she realized that the narrator was addressing someone else One explicit “rule,” which, apparently, is being repeated is “Be kind.” Because of the information about trees–how they slowly form communities, communicate, and feed each other root to root–we heard embedded in the text that patience is also being taught. Patience + Kindness = Survival. One person told the group that the oldest trees in the US is a stand of aspens in Utah. We wondered, when hearing the parent settle the child for the night and say, “Tomorrow will be long,” what would transpire in that near future. Were they going to visit grandparents, their “roots”? Or is this beginning setting a scene in a story about growing up with children separating child and parent in time and space?

Intertextually, there were references to John Lennon’s “Imagine” and the novel “Braided Sweetgrass.”  

Writing for four minutes to the prompt: “Write a dialogue between two or more trees” brought rich narratives of trees, a few of which were even given names – “Marcus” and “Greenleaf”. We saw trees weathering the seasons and imagined the consciousness of trees that sometimes ignore humans and sometimes wonder why the humans do what they do and also welcome their embraces. One asked if trees are competitive, if they feel pain, and if they grieve when another tree dies. One wondered whether the trees learn something from us. Another narrative, evoking the unintentional damage that humans inflict on trees, seemed a plea to reflect and understand our stewardship of the natural world.

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Wednesday, November 18th at 12pm EST, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

LET ME TELL you something about trees. They speak to each other. Just think what they must say. What could a tree have to say to a tree? Lots and lots. I bet they could talk for ever. Some of them live for centuries. The things they must see, that must happen around them, the things they must hear. They speak to each other through tunnels that extend from their roots, opened in the earth by fungus, sending their messages cell by cell, with a patience that could only be possessed by a living thing that cannot move. It would be like me telling you a story by saying one word each day. At breakfast I would say it, the word of the story, then I’d kiss you and I’d go to work and you’d go to school and all you’d have of the story is that single word each day and I would give no more until the next day, no matter how you begged. You’ll have to have the patience of a tree, I’d say. Can you imagine how that would be? If a tree is starving, its neighbors will send food. No one really knows how this can be, but it is. Nutrients will travel in the tunnel made of fungus from the roots of a healthy tree to its starving neighbor, even one of a different species. Trees live, like you and me, long lives, and they know things. They know the rule, the only one that’s real and must be kept. What’s the rule? You know. I’ve told you lots of times before. Be kind. Now sleep, my love, tomorrow will be long.

From a Low and Quiet Sea. (2018) Donal Ryan. P3.

7 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EST November 16th 2020

  1. ju2020

    – Weird times, right?

    – you don’t talk much. . . 

    I can’t say the same about you
    – Well, I can’t imagine why people used to come here every week and now they aren’t here anymore for a while . . . for us, not so long. . . but for humans?! it is a reaaaallyyyy long time.

    They are funny. . . always in a hurry.
    – They were always on their phones, too. I like when they take photos with us. 

    A while back the phones weren’t used for photos. It is funny
    – they are always running here in our park, too.

    They run everyday… it looks like they can’t walk slowly.
    – they even walk in a hurry for work.

    sometimes they work here in our park, too
    – why do you think they are not coming here this year?
they must be runing to go to work, that’s why

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dialogue between two trees~~~

    Marcus: I’ve been standing here for decades and decades. I’ve seen the world change about me. The wars these humans wage against each other. It doesn’t make sense to me. The hurt they cause on each other as a species. I weep for them.

    Greenleaf: You’re right, Marcus I stand here in my plot of earth with the same questions in my mind. When will they learn the lessons of their past as we have done? We stand here in peaceful bliss with our roots deep in the earth.

    Marcus: I see them running about, always in a hurry. If only they would pause and be thankful for the blessings the Creator has given them, as He has given to us.

    Greenleaf: We will have to pray that someday they will realize the true value of living a life well-lived, with kindness and value for each other’s being. Blessings to your family, Marcus! I think I’ll take in the sun for a while.


  3. ju2020

    -if you could you would chose to make noise or to move?
    . . . 

    I was trying to sleep . . .
    -oups. again?

    yep. I try.
    -well, since you are already awake…have you heard my question?

    yep…how couldn’t I?!

    I don’t know. I am just trying to sleep in silence for a while.
    -well, I would chose making noise when they put trash in our feet. what a lack of politeness…right?


    -I would love to scare them when they put trash in our park. I think it would be really funny.
    Couldn’t agree more. Now, do you mind? I am trying to sleep. . . 

    -it is funny because they sometimes dress like us for a day of the year. . . in autumn I guess?

    Halloween. I once have seen a human dressed like a tree. but not like you. because they weren’t talking as much.
    -outch. goodnight.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. michele348

    Dialogue between two trees~~~

    Lola the Ginkgo: Wow, Freddie, you sure are a snappy dresser! All adorned in scarlet red. Love that color on you!

    Freddie the Red Maple: Thanks, Lola! That shade of yellow does wonders for you! You’re a sight for these old branches. I love the way your leaves dance in the wind!

    Lola: How about we get the group together tonight and have a grand ole party.? You know in a few weeks these fine-looking colors will be a thing of the past and we”ll both look a bit droopy.

    Freddie: I’m up for it! Let me message my dudes and you get your dudettes. See you in a bit!


  5. Patricia D.

    T1: BRRR! the nights are chilly.
    T2: We’re almost naked now.
    T1: So much for my orange and red party dress!
    T2: At least the sun shines during the day.
    T1: Have you heard about global warming?
    T2: Do you think I’m deaf?
    T1. Seriously! It gives me hope.
    T2: What! It’s bad for us.
    T1: I know, but I hate freezing
    T2: Snuggle up next to me.
    T1: I’m a bit stiff, you know – at my age…
    T2: Then I will spread my branches.
    T1: How kind of you.

    PS sorry I missed our session.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. al3793

    “How do you do this
    day in and day out
    season after season
    budding, bearing leaves and fruit
    being picked over and then
    dropping your leaves
    only to shudder your way
    through winter’s stinging chill?

    “Well, there’s always the warm rays of spring,
    sometimes late,
    but always warm and
    brings the lime greens that contrast
    gently with the leaving browns of winter and
    give way to the rich, lush green of summer.”

    “But how do you ignore all that is going on
    out on those streets,
    the hate, anger, deceit, poverty,

    “It’s the huggers.
    you know those humans who visit,
    no matter the weather,
    who brave the elements,
    the horizontal wind and snow and
    who come out warm, blue-skyed days, and
    just put their arms around you
    and weep. “


    • To be a hugger of trees is a noble association, for you can hear the heartbeat of Mother Earth if you listen carefully enough. One stands a little taller, a little more resolute after such an encounter. I am thankful to be a hugger of trees.


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