There are some trees that call to me. This broken giant still towers over the other trees even if it’s no longer as tall. It stands on a mound of earth elevated as if on a stage. It demands attention.
I’ve visited it before, but this time, I cupped my hand and tapped the smooth naked wood no longer clothed in bark. Then I used both hand, one curled in a fist, knocking on the tree. I walked around the tree hitting it with both hands in different spots, getting different sounds.
I was drumming the tree.
As I continued walking I would spot the hollow and dead trunks and leave the path to drum them. Some had soft spots where the wood moved making a swishing sound. One tree was completely hollow was like a pipe to a church organ, the sound sharp and loud.
Most of the trees had more nuanced sounds, changing depending on how and where I drummed. Eventually I picked up a stick and used that to drum with too.
Fate followed me, stopping at each tree, waiting while lost myself in the beat. Falling into a kind of trance I was becoming one with the woods in a way I never had before.
I wondered what the animals and insects thought, when the last time was they heard or felt the vibration from such a sound. Maybe the Native Americans who lived here before the Europeans came used to drum the trees. Or one of the children of the Scottish Settlers, curious and playful made their own music.
After all these years of walking in nature, and loving trees, I found a new way to be with them. A new way to combine our voices and create something together.
Indigenous Australians sing the land, their songlines a map that guides them. It’s how they navigate the wilderness. So somehow drumming the trees actually seems very natural. In a way, I’m surprised it took me so long to do.