The Trees are Talking
True Story by Jason Palmer
The forest has always held a certain special place in my heart. For me it is a refuge from life's hectic pace and pressures. It offers a sense of spiritual peace and connectivity that I cannot find elsewhere. Perhaps it is the slower pace, the quiet solitude or the knowledge that I am surrounded not by concrete walls and metal doors but by living creatures, great and small. Even the air feels charged with energy. For these reasons my brother and I decided to spend the weekend in my 59 acres of woods. Being seasoned campers we've seen and heard almost every sight and sound there is in northwestern Pennsylvanian forest. That was about to change as we discovered that sometimes even the usual can become the unusual.
Our camp was set up in a peaceful area along the edge of a Hemlock grove, where the forest turns from dense evergreens to open stands of tall Maple, Popular and Cherry. The night was a pleasant one; the sounds of nighttime surrounded our little campsite while we reminisced around the campfire. In the morning we decided to walk the forest and enjoy the peace and solitude of the land. Our first stop was across a small seasonal stream to a large Sugar Maple I affectionately call "Grandfather Maple" because of its old age and grand stature. Seeing that Grandfather Maple had a rather large grapevine growing up and in its crown we decided to chop the vine down to help the grand tree. It was no small job as the vine was several inches thick but in the end we had a certain amount of satisfaction knowing we were being good stewards.
We took that feeling, and the hatchet, and continued our stewardship of cutting down numerous vines as we walked the woods. It was something I had wanted to do for the past three years because each year after a long hard winter or strong thunderstorm I can usually find one tree torn down by the added weight of the vines. My heart ached seeing these majestic trees being slowly strangled as the grapevines climbed higher into the canopy, eventually out-competing their host until finally dragging it the ground.
Feeling rather pleased with ourselves we left the woods to meet some friends and do some chores around the house. It wasn't until later that evening, after we had returned to our campsite, that we heard the sound. At first it was just the same groaning and creaking sound that we've heard before in the woods. Trees moving in the wind will often creak, groan, and pop as their trunks sway back and forth. This, however, was different. This sound was long and drawn out, starting out high pitched and ending with a low groan. A five minute pause and then the exact same sound again and again. Each time the same strange notes played out, repetitiously. And all with no wind. As the evening wore into night the groaning continued, like clockwork, only now it was being joined by other groans, deeper in the woods and each definitely tree-like. We joked that the Ents from the Lord of the Rings were alive and well in my woods. We told ourselves that the trees were talking to each other, happy about the assault on their grapevine foes and, hopefully, the humans at the fire could be considered friends. At least that’s what we hoped they were saying. The speaking continued late into the night and then as mysteriously as it had started, the sounds ceased.
The following morning the forest was as peaceful as ever, no strange noises, no unusual movements. The sounds from the night before were gone and we were left with only unanswered questions.
I've been in those woods many times since then but I have not heard those same strange sounds. Who knows what the cause of the noise was or why it lasted as long as it did but I still like to think that it was those trees talking to one another. Now if only I knew what they had said…
Read More Ghost Stories
The Will of The Wisp
Alone in the Allegheny National Forest
Screams in the Night
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