“it is the empty seats that listen most raptly.”
northside woods , ann arbor – fall 2021
Silent tree activity, like photosynthesis and the absorption and evaporation of water, produces a small voltage in the leaves. In a bid to encourage people to think more carefully about their local tree canopy, sound designer and musician Skooby Laposky has found a way to convert that tree activity into music.
By connecting a solar-powered sensor to the leaves of three local trees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Laposky was able to measure the micro voltage of all that invisible tree activity, assign a key and note range to the changes in that electric activity, and essentially turn the tree’s everyday biological processes into an ethereal piece of ambient music.
You can check out the tree music yourself by listening to the Hidden Life Radio—Laposky’s art project—which aims to increase awareness of trees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the city’s disappearing canopy by creating a musical “voice” for the trees.
The project features the musical sounds of three Cambridge trees: a honey locust, a red oak, and an 80-year-old copper beech tree, all located outside the Cambridge Public Library. Each tree has a solar-powered biodata sonification kit installed on one of its branches that measures the tree’s hidden activities and translates it into music.
According to WBUR, between 2009 and 2014, Cambridge was losing about 16.4 acres of canopy annually, which is a huge loss considering that tree canopies are crucial to cities, cooling them down during the summer, reducing air pollutino, sucking up carbon, and providing mental health benefits.
Laposky hopes that people will tune into Hidden Life Radio and spend time listening to the trees whose music occurs in real-time and is affected by the weather. Some days they might be silent, especially when it hasn’t rained for several days and they’re dehydrated. The project will end in November, when the leaves will drop — a “natural cycle for the project to end,” Laposky says, “when there aren’t any leaves to connect to anymore.”
“in a cool solitude of trees
where leaves and birds a music spin,
mind that was weary is at ease,
new rhythms in the soul begin.”
-william kean seymour
source credits: Kristin Toussaint, The Optimist Daily, WBUR Radio
oyster mushrooms at play in their natural habitat
foraging for mushrooms in the late autumn shade in the woods
hunting in nooks and crannies, logs, trees, mossy patches
there we met a few fungi along with their mold and lichen cousins
luckily my daughter and grandies have studied a lot about mushrooms
why i’m here to tell my story.
“on the subject of wild mushrooms,
it is easy to tell who is an expert and who is not;
the expert is the one who is still alive.”
ran into this guy
when out walking
frozen in place
i tried to remember
what to do
if i ever was
to meet a bear in the woods
run, play dead, make myself large, make noise
take a picture
leave it in the trees
for the child who left it behind
now, missing it.
“he looked all alone
and so sad and so blue,
so I said, “oh, dear bear;
there’s a home here for you.”
-ingrod sawubona, A Big-Bear Birthday, Please (English version)
this friendly-looking tree
deep in the woods
so content and jolly
i think it would love to share its jokes.
“i never saw a discontented tree.
they grip the ground as though they liked it,
and though fast rooted, they travel about as far as we do.”
– john muir
bird hiils park, ann arbor, michigan, usa – summer 2020
beautiful walk in the rain today
a newly made waterfall
spring flowers in the mud
brilliant green moss
growing on the trees
in the quiet woods.
“the rain is falling all around,
it falls on field and tree,
Ii rains on the umbrellas here,
and on the ships at sea.”
-robert louis stevenson, a child’s garden of verses
a bit ironic
that the man who was installing my wood flooring
showed up at my house
on the second day of work
telling me how he had helped his friend
take down a dying tree in his yard
only to be knocked out cold and hit in the ribs
by a wayward giant branch
a piece of wood
that did not fall into place as planned.
I suggested he take the day off
to go to the doc or for some r&r
to come back and finish
whenever he felt better.
glad he took me up on my offer
and left for the day.
shows something about his work ethic
that he showed up
the very next day
prepared to work as hard as ever.
his comment –
” I know I look like I’ve been hit by a tree, but I’m okay,
it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.
lots of people have it a lot worse.”
“as you slide down the banister of life,
may all the splinters be going in the right direction.”
– author unknown
image credit: travelocity. com