Well-being and Forests

Tree Sense ed. Suzette Goldsmith (published by Massey University Press 2021) is the perfect book to read here in Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage area in recognition of its original and extensive temperate rainforest.

“Kimmerer points out that the words ‘humus’ and ‘human’ arise from the same root…Why should it not follow that humans might have an intrinsic sense of belonging to the forest world, with its deep, decomposing layers of organic matter, the origin and destination of so much terrestrial life?” (Kennedy Warne in Tree Sense, with reference to Native American botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer.)

At Lake Monowai

There’s nothing like being in native forest. At Lake Monowai the air was so humid that I was aware at first of every breath I took. The scent of beech forest is like nothing else: rich and sweet with honey dew. There was the sound of bellbirds, crickets, and the creaking of branches in the canopy.

The forest floor is dense with moss. Fallen trees feed the new ones coming through. It’s difficult to photograph the extent of it. It reminded me of the superstition that a photograph steals your soul. A photo of the forest is superficial; its soul remains intact.

Before my walk at Lake Monowai, I had just read about Kimmerer’s research which “points to the subterranean mycorrhizae – the fungal filaments that inhabit and interconnect tree roots…’All flourishing is mutual.’ “ (ibid.) This made me take note of the above-ground evidence of fungal life. It was everywhere.

Speaking of the subterranean, the glow worm caves at the foot of the Murchison mountains at Lake Te Anau give a glimpse into what goes on under the forest.

It’s raining this morning. The rivers and waterfalls will be flowing strongly and the rainforest sustained.

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