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 1 of a series Loveland resident and Ohio University student, Joe Timmerman wrote 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.
Pat, Norah Jane and Becky Hill of Loveland, Ohio, with their oak trees. Pat Hill grew up in the house next door and used to farm the land across the street.
“I’ve always wanted to name this property ‘Twin Oaks,’ one for her and one for me,” Hill said. “As a kid, I always liked a good swing, so I had that swing put up by a tree company. The cable goes from one oak to the other. I’ve always thought that the swing hung from the two parents, and it was a symbol of the family that we created. Our boys all thrived and spent a lot of time on that swing. I bought excellent chains and a high-quality steel cable to create that swing because I want it to last for a long, long time. I think the trees are about 60 years old.”
Part 2 will introduce you to Phil Ping and his dog, Bandit, of Loveland and their logs and boards of maple, oak, walnut and pine.