By Joe Timmerman
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe,” John Muir, a transcendentalist, wrote of nature’s connectedness in his 1911 book, My First Summer in the Sierra.
In 1997, Nature journal published ecologist Suzanne Simard’s Ph.D. theses, describing newfound proof of how plants within communities can be interconnected through an underground system, called a mycorrhizal network, to interact with each other.
This is Part 3 of a series Loveland resident and Ohio University student, Joe Timmermanwrote for The Post in Athens, Ohio. The Post is an award-winning, student-run media outlet that publishes online daily and also prints a weekly tabloid. They cover local and Ohio University news, sports, Athens life, entertainment and everything in between. The series is re-published here in Loveland Magazine with permission of The Post and Loveland High School graduate, Joe Timmerman a frequent contributor to Loveland Magazine.
“All trees all over the world, including paper birch and Douglas fir, form a symbiotic association with below-ground fungi … They compete with each other, but our work shows that they also cooperate with each other by sending nutrients and carbon back and forth through mycorrhizal networks,” Simard said in an interview with Yale Environment 360.
In this sense, trees communicate with one another on a deeper level than what is seen in the overstory and the understory of a forest.
From mothers and fathers sharing memories of trees they have grown to love with their kids to a lifelong woodworker who discovered a new relationship with wood as time went by, people are connecting with nature in new and old ways, as COVID-19 has brought a global feeling of social disconnection. People and their trees alike have a story to be told.
Iris Wilson of Hamilton Township, Ohio, with her pin oak tree. Wilson takes care of her dad, who still lives in this farmhouse.
“My dad, who grew up across the road, was good friends with the people who lived here,” Wilson said. “They had five boys that worked on the farm here before going to war. They would cut down dead trees in the forest behind this house like crazy. One day, they came back with a little sapling and planted it here by the house on their sister’s birthday. She’s been gone for a little while now. She would have been over 100, so this tree has been here a long time. It has little tiny acorns. There seems to be a squirrel that lives in it year-round. It really provides a lot of shade for the house in the hot months. When we’ve had ice storms, the limbs, even though they’re way up high, touch the ground. I was sure it was going to ruin the tree, but it didn’t. We started doing limb maintenance on the tree about three years ago, in hopes of giving it a little more life.”
Read Part 2
Read Part 1: