this week on The Treetalker

During the next few weeks, I’ll be posting excerpts from my forthcoming book,
Secret Voices from the Forest:
Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees,
Volume Two: The Midcontinent.


It’s official release date is September 23rd and, although it will be delivered from the printer around the 4th, I will be leaving to “meet” the trees for Volume Three: The East almost immediately, and won’t return until the end of September.

However, I will be taking a few cartons of books with me in the car, as well as mailing envelopes, so if you wish to receive your copy before the beginning of October, you can order through my website


where you can pay via Paypal with your credit card. They will send me an email that notifies me of your payment, and I will find a nearby Post Office and send your copy right away.
If you send me your email address as well, I can let you know when your book has been shipped. Send it to me at this address: merrill.lj@gmail.com.

In due course, I will list SV: Vol 2 on Amazon, but not for several weeks. I’ll keep a lot more of the money if you buy the book through my website but, if you’re not familiar with Paypal, I can understand if you want to wait for the Amazon listing.

To explain a little of the format, there are 12 trees in each book, selected to represent one of 4 areas. Each tree’s section begins with “Reflections,” in which the tree “speaks” for itself, focusing on its particular subject. The following excerpt is from Black Walnut, whose subject is “Attention.”  The following excerpt is from Chapter Three: Upper Midwest—Black Walnut—”Attention”

Reflections on ATTENTION

What Walnut Can Tell You About Itself

I am particularly aware of my environment, and how I am situated within it, not so much as it relates to me at any given moment, but in a dimensional way. To have, or to be at Attention means to be present and alert, to be aware of spatial relationships, not simply physical ones, but those that are created by the potential of interaction and reaction between organisms.

There is a consciousness that this potential acquires. It makes decisions and communicates them to the unconscious of the two objects–whether organic or inorganic, it makes no difference. It is the personification of Space. If the relationship between the two things changes or ceases to exist, so does the consciousness.

In the same vein, it is here in the Upper Midwest that the continent begins to become aware of its own age. My species is not exclusive to this area, and in other parts, the Land seems to slumber; here, the Earth has just awakened to the presence of the Sky, and feels aroused.

I feel that it is important to leave your mark. We are tested every day by life, and I would wish that a record be made of significant changes or improvements. I feel the slow stretch of my bark growing, which gives me perspective on the passage of time that is more tangible than the movement of celestial bodies. Time only seems like it’s divided into bits, just as we, as matter, have become discernible elements of the physical, self-image of the life force, which is really, in the “mind” of LIFE, a single entity.

I have learned, in past lives, that it is good to have friends, whether you are part of a flock of birds, or a drop of water or a snowflake. I’m not sure that I ever dream. After all, isn’t dreaming simply encountering a dimension in which we experience an unfamiliar spatial relationship with familiar things?

Walnut’s Place in the World

My family, Walnut, has learned that the Earth is beautiful, but not an easy place. Good chances to learn abound. Movement is like a treadmill—you always come back around to the place you started; the future is just something to worry about. Why do you care? Desire is a cranial activity, meaning it’s all in the head; fate is another word for fatalistic!

The Walnut species is food, for everything and everyone. It’s not something I resent, you understand, but it does put perspective on existence in general: you come, you go, and in the meantime, it’s all about survival—somebody’s, anyway. There is generally a physical hardness to those of my family, which is a result of being constantly called on to provide food. A certain defensive stance becomes necessary, to put the brakes on, so to speak. My particular species has perhaps become a bit more hardened than the others.

Trees all have their own brand of small talk, but my family prefers to speak of colors and how they change with the light and through their relation to their surrounding conditions. The only problem with being rooted to the ground is that one sometimes feels a bit static, and color changes prove that there is a connection to one’s surroundings.

Over many centuries, we have watched flowers become very aggressive. It’s almost as though they think they run the show by themselves! So, we like to keep them in their place by causing the grass to grow.

Walnut’s Message for Us

In humans, Attention manifests in the wise, the totally free, and the very young. You are always moving, growing and changing. You could benefit from making more selective choices, but that would require knowledge of the outcome—which isn’t possible. So do as you will, and indeed, who can say this is not the way it should be?

Your role here has been to counter or even redirect. There is nothing innately wrong with that, as everything needs an opposing force to be active and develop, or even evolve in the first place. In a sense, all things provide those opposing forces to something else. Generally, these changes take place over a long stretch of time—sometimes millions of years, and you push the limits. Again, this is not innately wrong, and has happened many times before. The Earth has many powerful forces, which have, in their turn, moved continents, raised mountains and flattened them again, extinguished life, and created the conditions by which it could begin again.

Although this is a planet where, literally, the strong survive, you have the capacity to make a place for the weaker of us. Prisons are not a deterrent to crime, and fear does not inspire love or respect. Form closer relationships with the rest of Earth’s inhabitants; listen to their simple, but clear voices and then follow your hearts.



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