Provocation 6: 

Annette Arlander

︎ Visit Annette’s website 

Provocation 6: Ask a tree

1. Go to a tree that is important to you – if you do not have such a tree
   nearby, go to the nearest park and approach a tree that is inviting you.

2. Bring a pen and paper with you.

3. Greet the tree and ask the tree for advice concerning a problem you are
   struggling with or conduct an interview with the tree about your main
   research concerns.

4. Write down by hand, while spending time with the tree, the questions and the
   possible answers that come to your mind.

5. If you wish, you can prepare by watching a video, where I try to interview
   an old pine tree (here is the link to the video).

Annette Arlander, DA, is an artist, researcher and a pedagogue, one of the pioneers of Finnish performance art and a trailblazer of artistic research. In 2018-2019 she was professor in performance, art and theory at Stockholm University of the Arts with the artistic research project Performing with Plants. She was also the principal investigator of the Academy of Finland funded research project How to Do Things with Performance (2016-2020). At present she is visiting researcher at Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki with the project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees. Her research interests include artistic research, performance-as-research and the environment. Her artwork moves between the traditions of performance art, video art and environmental art.


Nikki Fairchild

Conversations with a Kowhai

K: Of course you know I am an illegal immigrant…

N: Hmm…remind me again of your journey.

K: Originally I sprouted in Waikato, New Zealand, you remember your neighbour Jean…?

N: Yes, she died…oh…6 years ago…

K: Oh really, that is sad…anyway she smuggled me back to the UK in her suitcase,

I was growing in her cousin’s garden. So now I am here with you.

N: I remember she gave you to us when we returned from living in Nelson (New Zealand), that must be more than 11 years ago now. She wanted us to feel part of the community and thought this would remind us of our time there…

K: That was very nice of her!

N: Yes I thought so too.

K: Well do I remind you?

N: Yes you do, things were different then…our son was much younger…we wanted a new life…better jobs…better outdoor lifestyle…it didn’t work out like that…we came home as it was getting near to when he (son) would have had to go to school and we didn’t want to disrupt that.

K: And now you are talking to me!

N: Yes! Do you miss New Zealand? I often wonder if you are still connected as you seem to lose your leaves and flowers at different times to most UK native plants.

K: Yes I miss the warmth and the flowers of the Pohutukawa tree…but I am lucky…I have connections in your garden, there is enough food and water and I am safe…what more could you ask for…

As I write this I think of all the people who are not safe, who migrate and who are displaced, who ask for asylum, who are desperate. In the UK, the post Brexit climate is very challenging. Some would suggest that the Conservative Government has moved to the right of politics. One of the manifesto promises was a crack down on immigration and asylum seekers. This policy is being ruthlessly enacted at the moment, not only are asylum seekers and ‘illegal’ immigrants being targeted but there are reports this is happening to European job seekers. All Europeans living in the UK had to register for settled status – some are worried this could be revoked. Migrants come to a nation and join a community, they contribute via taxation and also by the relationships they build. A diverse community can enrich our lives. Recently in Scotland the Home Office and Border Force came to arrest what the press reported as ‘two immigrants’. The local community surrounded the vans and peacefully protested. These men were their neighbours and members of their community. They were released but I suspect this will happen again. The Windrush saga also continues to raise its ugly head. Migrants invited from the Caribbean to post War Britain…families who have worked and served their local communities unable to get residence documents…family members being deported for minor crimes even when they have never lived in the Caribbean.
Conversations with my Kowhai tree bring these issues into sharp focus. Perhaps the incident in Scotland is the start of a turning tide away from nationalism…I hope so.

Mahek M.

Tessa V.B.

Shayna P.

Good evening Mr. Pine Tree! Would you mind if I asked you a variety of questions tonight?

As long as you don’t carve into me like the little kids in this neighborhood do, I’m happy to do anything.

I promise, no carving.

Ask away.

I am really concerned about my future- I feel fairly lost and confused. Do you have any ideas on how I could ease these concerns?

Ground yourself. You can’t make wise decisions when you are floating around in space. Take some deep breath, figure out what matters to you, and go from there.

I don’t really see how the future will get any better unless our government drastically changes. Is there any way you could see this happening?

I think that the answer lies less in the government and more so in your community. You most lilely can’t control how the government is run without either becoming a politician or committing a horrible crime, but you can work to band together with the people aroind you to increase the power of the people.

How would you recommend someone deal with a lack of motivation when working in a situation that is much more difficult without immense motivation and passion?

Parse down the situation to its base goal and the simplest form of what you must produce. After that, figure out how to reach this goal and produce what you must
*without* your perfectionism. What specifically will you not do that your perfectionism drives you towards?

How can I better connect with the people around me?

Do you really need to connect with the people around you better, or do you need to work on connecting with yourself? you cannot have genuine interactions with the people around you until you improve your relationship with yourself.
You cannot connect with others when you are emulating a fake version of yourself.

Won’t I just come off conceited if all I focus on is myself?

There’s a difference between spending time connecting with yourself and focusing on yourself. You can focus on yourselfby doing many things like getting a manicure or doing face masks or working out - all of those are fine activities but they don’t mean you are actually connecting with yourself. Connecting with yourself can require constant dialogue such as journal writing or being mindful through meditation.

Chloe R.

Khalena C.

Katie H.

David R.

Prisha Mhatre

P: Hi tree! I see that you are as peaceful as always. Did you enjoy the rain yesterday?

T: Yes, it is always nice to cool off with some summer showers. The wind felt nice through my leaves.

P: You always provide a cool shade for me when I sit outside and your branches are home to many birds. I appreciate that.

T: Well I am glad to help, and I love the little songs the birds sing. They’re all so beautiful and unique!

P: I love to listen to them too! You seem to know many great things, and you’ve been observing and protecting me since I moved here with my family when I was just 3 years old! May I ask you a few questions?

T: Definitely. Ask away!

P: I’ve been trying to relax more lately, but sometimes it’s hard to not be stressed with all my responsibilities. How can I stop worrying so much? How are you able to remain calm even during frightful storms?

T: It’s quite more simple than you think. Even during a storm, when my branches seem to sway furiously, I still feel safe and secure. Actually, I feel so free! I think during stressful times, it can be hard to see everything that is still going right for you. It is easy to get caught up in the storm and miss all the things that you still have and can be grateful for.

P: Hmm, I see. I guess I do focus too much on uncertainty. How do you nourish and take care of yourself even when you’re feeling down?

T: I take my time, and take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. I imagine all those icky feelings flowing out as I do. And importantly, I let myself feel.

P: Okay, thank you. And how can I stop worrying about the result and focus more on enjoying the process of what I do? The future can be scary.

T: Well the future does hold so much uncertainty, but it also holds many possibilities too. Sometimes, we can expect too much out of ourselves and we want everything to go as planned. We want to be perfect. It will take time to realise that everything doesn’t have to be under your control. Someday you will appreciate all the possibilities in your life rather than fear them.

P: Well thank you so much for listening to my concerns! I really appreciate your guidance.

T: Yes, you are certainly welcome! I appreciate your company too. Don’t feel shy to come talk again.

Cedar F.

Did it hurt?
They took your height, your fruit, your dignity, and left you naked.
Did you feel it?
The roots that you bind yourself beneath the earth with are like my hands, holding on for something better, clenching my fists when I get angry, digging my nails into my palms, crumbling bedsheets when I cry. I know you use your hands to connect yourself to the others like you, who still stand tall. 
Do they know?
Do they reach back to you in comfort, or ignore your pain and feel the warmth of the sun on their long bodies as you sit, small and hunched, feeling eons away from the sky?
Do the plants around you extend their sympathies, cradling you in recognition, whispering “you are our size now and we love you still, we loved you when you were big and now that you are small like us we still love you”?
Or is there silence? Is there cold? Is there a heart that stubbornly beats next to the rings of your life, or is it barren, empty, stripped?
I think you are proud. I think you would never expose your wounds to me, especially not the ones that cut deeper than my human eyes can see.
I think you are trying. And I think that is enough.

Johnny V.

I chose to interview a tree that’s been in our yard for about 50 years. My grandfather planted an avocado tree on his property when he was in his early 20s.  It is now an enormous tree that provides plenty of avocados.  I currently have been at a crossroads in my life and I’m constantly second guessing my choices.  I keep asking what-if questions.  Asking these questions outloud has confirmed that I should do what makes me happy regardless of others’ opinions.

Me:  Hello tree! I ask for your advice and wisdom.

Tree:  Ask away…..

Me:  Is it normal to have so many crossroads in life?

Tree:  It is…..

Me:  Is it bad I left the military in the middle of a pandemic?

Tree:  No, it's ok to be selfish and prioritize your mental health.

Me:  Is it ok I don’t want to be a healthcare worker anymore?

Tree:  No, your passion will constantly change so you must change with it.

Me:  Thank you for calming my mind


Margaux M.

Hello tree,
I must admit, I feel quite odd doing this, but I welcome it with an open mind.  By “this” I mean talking to you, but this idea was brought to my attention with rather suitable timing. So, tree, I would like to ask you a few questions about decisions that have been troubling me. First, let me give you a name so that you are not just a noun.  I’ll call you Zion, if that’s alright with you?

Z: It is, tell me, what is pestering you?

M: I am nearing the end of my degree, and I should feel accomplished, yet I feel rather lost.  I don’t know where to go from here or how to go about finding that answer.  I am normally a rather decisive person, and believe that what’s meant to be, will happen.  This time though, I find myself anxious, anxious for the future.  Am I good enough?  Am I smart enough?  Will others see me as intelligent?  What should I do?  What do you think Zion?  How should I navigate the next steps of mine?

Z: What do you truly want, without the thoughts of others plaguing your mind?

M: I can’t tell.  It’s too hard to get those thoughts out.

Z: Try thinking about when you were younger.  What you wanted when you used to play on trees such as I, with ropes on them for fun.  What did you dream of then?

M:  I dreamed of a job.  A somewhat particular job.  One that is still my dream, but I don’t know if I am worthy of it.  I don’t know if I can do it.

Z: What is holding you back? 

M:  I was sick, I’m not now, but that sickness took so much of my confidence.  I felt weak and incapable of everything.  I don’t know how to get that confidence back.  I’m trying, but it’s hard.  I think it is simply my own mind holding me back.  The thoughts that I read from others hold me back too.

Z: Those other thoughts you mentioned that you feel from others, what do they want you to do?

M: They want me to prove my intelligence. They want me to pursue more schooling to set me apart from the rest.  At that point, and only that point, is when they will view me as worthy again.  When they will view me as smart again.  When they will view me as capable again.

Z:  I think you’ve found your answer.  It may be hard, but we must not listen to what the wind blows to your ears.  You must go after your own path.  Grown tall and strong, but in your own way.  Think on this.  Take a chance and trust yourself to succeed.  You never know until you try.

Hannah W.

Good afternoon, how are you doing?


I’m Hannah, what’s your name?


Right. Okay, how are you doing?


I’m good, thanks for asking.


How are you feeling?


I struggle with happiness sometimes. Really often actually.


My dad did too. I’m kind of upset at how generous he is with things like this


He really is a generous guy. He always tries his best. I love him like crazy for that.


Do I?


Do I try my best, I mean? Do you think we have that in common? Would I even be able to tell if I do?


Ah, yes. Still a tree.


How can I be happy all the time? Are you happy all the time?


Do you get sad? Can you even be sad?


I really wish you would answer me.


You have really good posture, you know. I need to work on that, actually. My mom always yells at me for slouching.


I don’t think what I say affects you much. You don’t smile when I compliment you. I’m sure you wouldn’t start crying if I mentioned how crooked all your branches are.


You can’t be sad. And you can’t be happy either.




How come I can’t be happy? What weighs me down?


It’s me.


I like talking to you. Talking to myself just makes me feel worse. I talk to myself like an enemy.


I’m doing it right now.


Do you ever get frustrated and just want to scream at yourself or hit your head against the wall and just give it all up?


Of course not, you’re a tree


You’re nice to everyone, including yourself. You probably couldn’t be mean if you wanted to, huh?


I should probably work on that.


Okay I gotta run, this was a good talk. Thank you.


Remember to talk to yourself like a friend.

I’ll report back next time I see you.


Christian F.

So, I had a thought. If our provocation/task is to talk to a tree, then wouldn’t a bonsai qualify? I think so.

C:        Hello Mr. Bonsai! Excuse me while I write this down. I’m just recording our conversation, it’s for an assignment I have. Would you mind if I asked you for some advice?

B:        I’m sure some friendly banter wouldn’t hurt.

C:        Well, I was wondering if you had any insight into how to live a little more carefree. I’m asking cause life has been a bit stressful lately and I want to make the most of it.

B:        I think the key to managing stress is focusing on what you can do at this very moment. Be present. It’s okay to anticipate, but do so with purpose. Don’t worry about the future to just worry. Make a plan and execute it as best you can. If you’ve done your best, then there’s nothing to worry about.

C:        Whoa. I wasn’t expecting that.

B:        What?

C:        It was just very thorough.

B:       I’m a tree. I’m not going to give you roundabout  answers.

C:        Noted.

B:        Did you have any more questions?

C:        What’s your name?

B:        Drazzle’s the name, and my friend here is Drizzle.

C:        So, it’s like Razzle-Dazzle?

B:        No.

C:        Ah, okay.

B:        …………….

C:        So, what do you do in your free time?

B:        I bathe in the sun and ponder existence.

C:        Such a simple life.

B:        It’s peaceful.

C:        Can I ask you another question?

B:        Ask away.

C:        How can I be kinder more patient person?

B:        Why do you ask?

C:        I would just like to be there for the people I care about. Particularly my significant other.

B:        Well, I would just stay aware of what you’re thinking and feeling. Everything happens for a reason, and more often than not, your feelings are valid even in the face of irrationality.

C:        Even when I’m irrational?

B:        Despite what is occurring, your feelings are real. While a shift in perspective can aid in balancing those emotions, those emotions are often an outcry stemming from deeper frustrations that you may not realize.

C:        I’ll try to be more aware of that.

B:        Don’t force it. Like I said, everything happens for a reason. Just go with the flow and know that everything will be okay. It’s not easy, but just do what you can. As long as you’re making an effort, you’ll be okay.

C:        How do you know? That everything will be okay I mean.

B:        Well, the concept of being okay is relative, but take my branches for instance. While I may be a small tree, I’m still alive, I’m still growing. Every day I stretch out and absorb as much sunlight possible and use every opportunity to grow. Albeit, the process is slow, the goal is to just keep growing no matter what. If you’re making progress, it doesn’t matter how long takes. Have a little more faith in yourself. I know it’s hard, just grow each and every day.

C:        I’ll do my best. Thank you for your insight Drazzle.

B:        Now let me ask you a question.

C:        Hmm?

B:        What’s your name?

C:        Ah, forgive my manners! My name is Christian, it’s a pleasure to have finally have made your acquaintance.

B:        Pleasures all mine.

Zach T. 
Z: Good afternoon, Tree. I hope you have had a good day. If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you some questions.

T: (silence)

Z: Excellent. Well, let’s begin. How are you doing today?

T: (leaves begin to sway as a breeze)

Z: Oh, that’s good. That breeze must feel nice, it feels pretty nice down here at least. Now for a harder question. I’m looking for some advice. How do you handle with loss?

T: (leaves sway slowly as the breeze begins to fade)

Z: Told you it was going to be a harder question.

T: (leaves continue to slowly sway, a broken limb moves slightly)

Z: I think I see what you mean. You take the loss, you acknowledge it, but you continue to grow anyways in new directions. You give energy into the areas that haven’t been cut off, and you let it grow and develop into something vibrant.

T: (leaves stop swaying, there is silence)

Z: What?

T: (silence)

Z: Oh, you don’t just grow what is visible. The roots, they grow as well, if not more than the parts that you show to the world, the parts that get their time in the sun. The roots are just as important, if not more, because they allow you to expand your canopy and stay grounded with the world.

T: (silence)

Z: It’s a nice sentiment I’ll give you that, but what if there are pieces and parts you want to hold onto?

T: (a few dead leaves fall slowly from the tree)

Z: You let them go, and you grow new leaves in their place. They may not all go at once, but it’s okay to let things go over time because that’s just the process. It like the seasons, right?

T: (leaves begin to sway again as a new breeze starts)

Z: It’s all about the change and surviving even if vibrancy of life is gone in harsh parts of your life. It only becomes a problem if the entire system dies because then there isn’t a chance for new growth to happen.

T: (a bird flies into the tree and chirps)

Z: And you let birds, or people in my case, come into the new growth and they can enjoy the new vibrancy of life with you. They may come and go as they please, but just like the leaves, that’s okay, too.

T: (the bird takes flight and leaves the tree as it slowly stops swaying)

Z: …

T: (silence)

Z: …

T: (another leaf falls)

Z: Yeah, thank you. I’ll be okay, it’s just… it’s just a lot to take in all at once. I mean, whether you truly know it or not, this has been helpful. It’s peaceful here under your shade, thank you, Tree.

T: (leaves begin to sway as another breeze begins)

Sarah AThe wispy willows’ branches nearly tickled the grass that was below my feet as I stared up at the trunk above me. Its leaves were dancing along the bark of each branch and the whole tree seemed to be in perfect harmony with each individual limb of itself.

I wish I could be like this willow tree. I thought to myself as I observed its beauty in the breezy afternoon.

“Willow Tree, I’ve come here today to ask for some advice. How do you maintain composure when faced with such harsh winds that threaten to blow all the leaves from your branches?” I asked the tree. “How do you maintain a sturdy trunk that never shakes even when the earth itself trembles from the pressure below? How is it that you can seem to maintain harmony within yourself? Please, I need to know your secrets for I feel like I may break apart at the seams from the weight of life's unending challenges.”

For several minutes, the willow continued its dance, keeping up pace with the song of the wind and the birds, and then it slowed. A ray of sun passed through the clouds and hit the willow’s branches at the right angle, spearing through the leaves and landing on me for a moment that was too long to be a coincidence. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, allowing the sun to seep into my every pore and as I did, a gust of wind raced past with a whisper of words on its tail:

“It is not what you see externally that determines your strength, your beauty, nor your solitude, but instead it is the roots that grow within and deep into the ground below. Have confidence in the roots you have planted in the earth for they are who you are and the greatest part of your being. When those are strong, even a blow to your external parts will not shake your foundation.

Hang strong, little one. Your roots are planted better than you think.”

Matthew H.

I did not have a tree with meaning to me nearby, so I traveled to a park nearby. I walked around the park in search of a tree inviting me to discussion. I stumbled upon this one.

M: Hello, I’m M, how are you doing today? It’s quite windy, I hope it does not strain your limbs and beautiful flowers.

T: Hello M, I am doing alright. The wind does not strain my limbs, it does shake my flowers, I’ve been around for so long that the wind no longer fazes me.

M: I’m glad to hear that, perhaps a bit too forward, but I wonder, what does faze you?

T: Not much M, perhaps change?

M: Change? But your nature is to change! You change outfits each season, your leaves fall with the wind, your limbs break and new ones grow. I’d assume you’re comfortable with change because you’ve had so much practice.

T: (I envision the tree laughs warmly.) Haha you’re right, my nature is to change. That’s not the kind of change that scares me.

M: I’m sorry, I don’t understand.

T: You see over there? (My eyes follow a limb, it points towards the street. Across the street are buildings)

M: Yes, across the street, those buildings?

T: The street and the buildings, the construction, the cars, the light poles, the stop light, the signs.

M: You know a lot of human constructions for a tree.

T: Haha yes, you see I’ve watched all of these things be built up in my lifetime. I watched as humans of the past tore down my friends, I watched a they paved the earth taking away the nutrients that they needed to survive, I watched as they cut down my friends to build those buildings.

M: I’m sorry, I hadn’t thought of that, how colonization has destroyed your home.

T: Well this park is now my home, but I’m still contained to it. I’m stuck here, I get pruned by the parks department every few months.

M: Your life doesn’t sound so wonderful.

T: Well there is something wonderful in my life as a witness. I now witness humanity, there’s something beautiful about all of you. The kids that run up to me, the joy that the park brings all of you. It confuses me though, how much you enjoy this nature in the park in contrast with how much nature you’ve destroyed.

M: I can’t apologize for all of us, but I’m sorry. I wish I could go back and change something, I wish we all lived in a way that prioritized the multitude of life on this planet. Humanity is not one of sense nor structure, the only pattern we follow seems to be greed.

T: I know, I can’t say it’s okay, but I can ask that you’re careful in your choices. Don’t let this repeat. Allow good change, change that doesn’t harm.

(I sat for some time, contemplating this discussion. The idea of CHANGE. I’m often uncomfortable with change. This tree I’m talking to doesn’t like some of the changes around it, but it’s confined. How can I be a part of positive change? This tree can’t move it’s limbs unless the wind moves them, but I can move on my own, without the push of the wind. I can harness the winds. I look up at the flowers above me, with a newfound sense of gratitude.)

M: Thank you for talking to me.

T: Any time M, you know where to find me. Come back and see me when the weather changes, some of my friends look great in the fall.

(I sense that we have a shared understanding, something has been awakened in me, and the tree knows they have done their job, that although they can’t leave the confines of the park and move, they’ve moved something within me.)

M: Haha, I’ll come to see you then.

J. Gi

For provocation #6, I sought my favorite tree in the world: this cherry blossom tree right in the middle of my favorite trail in my favorite park. That tree means so much to me. My girlfriend and I go there all the time to do schoolwork, to draw, or even just to let the sun shine on us. It offers shade, but it also offers an aesthetic, views, and vibes like nothing else.

When I greeted the tree, I said “what’s happening.” Gotta keep it 100 with the tree. The “problem” that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to in the past weeks is a privilege to have, as it arises from a surplus of opportunity. I was offered a scholarship to domestically attend Arizona State, the school which I’m currently enrolled in online, and I’m torn between how I should allocate my free time when I arrive. I have a sales job lined up, a bartending job lined up, content pertaining to my major that’s dying to be created, and boxing classes that are waiting to be taken so I can rekindle the process of my training for future fighting endeavors. I essentially want to pursue everything fully-fledged, yet I simply don’t have enough time in the day to do every single one of these things. Do I prioritize making more money in the present moment, or do I attempt to hold out in order to develop a commodity that will generate passive income in the future? Do I begin fighting again, or will that take away from my lifting and inhibit maximum gains? There’s pros and cons tied to every single combination of these aspirations I have. I sat in meditation for about 20-30 minutes. Not a deep meditation, but rather one that granted me creative flow. I jumped from thought to thought, from potential reality to potential reality, free of distraction from the world that was continuing to move around me. The tree offered me the perfect amount of shade as the weather was heating up, as to where I wasn’t chilly, but I wasn’t overheating. I felt as if I could stay there forever.

After about a half hour, I eventually reached a moment of clarity: or, two moments of clarity? The conclusion which I arrived at was an uncomfortable truth. It’s one that tested my belief in myself and my ability to perform. I could either take a more guaranteed route to making money in assuming the sales position, or I could bet on my reception and ability to receive traction quickly if I started creating/promoting the scope of holistic health which I hope I can eventually share with the world full-time. I saw my life going either of the two ways: one was far safer and inviting, the other was far more ambitious, yet more exciting. I have to be honest, I didn’t arrive an answer between these two choices yet. It’s a really tough decision to make, considering the clock is ticking and I need to hit the ground running as soon as I get out to Arizona.

But I do know one thing for sure: the tree held it down the whole time I was there. There’s a certain wave of tranquility it brings as I go through life moving nonstop every single day. It’s nice to remove myself from the race, realign my goals, touch base with myself, and allocate my efforts in ensuring my dreams will become reality. I’m really glad that I decided to pursue this prompt.


I did feel a bit silly talking to a random tree, but after a while I got somewhat used to it, and decided to ask what it can teach me about life and came up how the more a tree grows the more roots it needs to stay grounded and have it standing upright, and how important ancestry or lineage should be to people. I also gave the tree a response that it got me thinking about what parenting is like compared to a tree. Parenting is like a tree, it provides and the offspring would take wood from it and how wood can't be given back, and in the end all that is left is a stump.

Danielle W.

There is this tree in my backyard that I look at every single day. She shades the yard with her leaves, and right now, she is growing mangos from her branches. I love this tree not only for the fruit that she bears but because she lets me hang bird feeders from her, and she is always welcoming to the critters that come and visit. Today I asked her about growth after loss and how transformative pain can become when viewed from a different perspective.

J. Taylor

Me: Good morning Mr. Tree how are you doing on this fine day.

Tree: (Sways in the wind)

Me: I have a problem concerning what I should with a second vehicle. My wife has a car that is paid off, but we need a second vehicle and I’m wondering if I should get a motorcycle or a car. I know the car is safer and more practical, but the motorcycle can be attained faster and can solve this situation. What do you think?

Tree: (Sways in wind)

Me: I know, the car is safer but then I have to be more patient and wait to save up more money for that to happen.

Tree: (Sways in wind)

Me: So, you think that good things come to those who wait and are patient and that I will be happier in the long run with a car?

Tree: (Sways in wind)

Me: Okay Mr. Tree thank you for your advice and patience and, like you, if I wait to get the better the choice, I will be stronger in the end. Like a tree with good roots!

Tree: (Sways in wind)

Krizel Z.


I walk up to a tree with pencil and paper in hand. I  feel bad interviewing the tree while holding their deceased brethren. Maybe it won't notice. It is an Olive Tree. It throws dying olives at me. Maybe it is the wind and not that the tree is mad that I show off my trophies of its lost kin. I think maybe I should have brought a tape recorder or my phone to take notes. Maybe a pen and written on my hand. The tree has birds in its branches, they make noises at me. They are not happy I am near. Tree? Is anyone happy to have me around? I wonder about that. I know Tree, you are stuck here, unable to wander free. Stuck with people you don't want around. You are right. I am lucky. I can leave when people, places, or things annoy me. When traffic is loud, a dog is pawing at my leg, it starts to rain.  I can put headphones on and drown out the voices of people I don't want to listen to. Or enjoy music that makes me happy. Does music make you happy, Tree? You hear music as cars drive by, or the sound of mufflers and sirens as vehicles pass. Do you ever get bored, Tree? Do you ever feel like there should be something more? You are right. I am lucky. I can explore new places and meet new people. I can try different foods and play sports. I can move if I don't like my neighbors, or gather with friends and have a party. You are a smart Tree and didn't even go to college. Oh, you went to a nursery. You are funny, Tree. A twig drops on my shoulder, perhaps Tree giving me a friendly pat. A neighbor walks by and stares at me talking to Tree. "You should commune with nature more", I tell her. I and Tree laugh. A bird flies off.


I walked outside confidently with my pen and paper as I greeted a tree that has grown up with me the past decade. At first, I felt silly speaking to something that couldn't speak back, but then I started to break down. My response for each thing I said to the tree was, “why me?” Today marks the day that I found out about the cancer spots on the heart, not physically on my own, but on someone I care about deeply. The person that gave me life. So I question the tree’s guidance and find that I’m still lost. I don’t have all the answers and neither does the tree, but that’s okay. Life goes on.

Alyssa H. 

Good morning, Tree, are you well?

That’s good. I bet it’s nice to stand here in the sun and just be.

How am I? For me, life has been work. Noise. I live just outside the busiest part of the city, where it’s uninspired and scary. I’m afraid of it all. I don’t crave walks alone like I used to. And why would I? There’s nothing peaceful about the sound of dozens of engines, or the burn of strangers’ eyes. Nothing about this place is for me.

I’m sorry. I think I went on too long about myself.

What do you see through your leaves?

Do you observe nature as we do? Do you find yourself appreciative of your


Tree, I think I envy you.

I barely even have time to think. Or maybe I don’t allow myself to.

And I don’t live in nature. I live in the opposite of it. I have to travel to see you.

But you live here, in a beautiful place untouched by industry and noise.

I wish I could feel at ease, I wish I were you.

And the tree said

You are worth envying, too. I can only grow in the same pattern I always have.

You have the opportunity to learn countless things. Meet so many different people.

You and I breathe the same air, rely on the same sun, gaze at the same stars.

We are the world together. The universe.

You are significant. Don’t ever forget that.

Lori M.

The tree I wish to visit lives only in my memories. My best friend, Monica and I used to refer to him as The Big Oak. The Big Oak was a huge majestic tree on the gravel road in between my house and her’s. As a little girl I always thought of the big oak as a male. He was one of the largest trees I can remember. The big oak sits at the split in the road and yes he is still there. He was our meeting spot, tall, healthy and handsome. Thank you Big Oak for protecting me on my many journeys along the lonely gravel road. You watched over the horses in the pasture. You watched my friends and I grow up. From playing tag to sneaking out to graduating high school. You saw most of the childhood drama and teenage mischief of myself and my oldest and dearest friend.
My life is comparable to The Big Oak. The foundation of The Big Oak is deeply rooted in North Carolina. I still call North Carolina home even though my parents moved away from there after I was grown. I keep remnants of North Carolina alive in my accent. I will never lose my accent. I don’t try, I don’t want to. It is a part of who I am. The branches represent growth, achievement, heartache and fear. All the emotions of the living. There are dead branches and sad and droopy branches. The Big Oak is a symbol of a lifelong friendship.
The Big Oak knows me better than I know myself. He has been with me most of my life. He encourages me to follow my dreams. Live each day like it’s the last. Value things money can't buy. He wants me to be myself and have fun along the way.

Maria R.

A Lover Lost

I woke up bright and early

There I went to the tree near my house in Tennessee

It asked me “oh dear what is it that hurts your heart?”

I ponder what do I say, how do I say it?

My heart aches for someone who is not mine

“There is lover who hurt me, no matter what I do all my thoughts go back to him. Should I try working it out again?”

T: “Men come and go, never let man tell you twice he doesn’t care about you. Seems like you know you should not give him the time of day, yet you wish to confirm something that is not there.”

“You’re right. So, what should I do, the thoughts remain, my heart aches? I feel as if a weight has been tied to my chest.”

T: “Let it remain. Go to your friends, find those who will hold you, look around you there are those who could love you. Then you’ll see slowly the weight will lift itself. No longer will he be more than a memory.”

“How long will it take? I want this feeling to leave right now if it can.”

T: “The way your love for him grew over time there is no limit to how long it will take to leave. If you truly wish to let his silence concern you then remember that his actions have proved you right many times.”

“You’re right. I should let go when the silence has given me a reason to.”

T: “Remember you didn’t lose a lover, he did.”

Skylar H.

S: Hi tree. I hope you don’t mind that I climbed you to get this interview.

T: It’s all right. I am particularly climbable after all. Besides, it is a lovely day to be outside, and to climb trees.

S: Do you ever wish that you didn’t have to be outside all the time? Today is nice, but surly there must be days that you wish you could go inside… or anywhere else anyway.

T: Not really. I have lived my whole life outside… in this exact place even! I really can’t imagine anything else. Sure, it gets cold sometimes, or to hot, and it may not seem exciting to always be in the same place, but it isn’t terrible to be a tree. It can be actually quite exciting at times even. Think about it. I’m out here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year. I get to see exactly how everything around me changes. And it is fascinating to see how much everything does change!

S: And what have you noticed change in the time you’ve spent here specifically?

T: Mostly just how big it has gotten here. That is, just many of your kind there are here now compared to when I was planted. Say, what do you call this place anyway?

S: This city?

T: Sure, I guess?

S: Dallas.

T: Huh, that’s kind of a funny name!

S: Is it? What do you call it?

T: I don’t call it anything.

S: Why? Do you not name all these things you see?

T: I’ve never needed to. Nothing ever moves, so I don’t need a name to keep track of it. It’s always there.

S: And what about the things that do move?

T: Well, its not as if I can go chasing after such things, so I tend to just let it go. Did you have a name by the way?

S: Skylar

T: That’s nice. Hey thanks for hanging out with me today.

As I wrote this I found myself thinking about the relationship between words and people’s tendencies to never sit still. I couldn’t help but to wonder, if trees could use language the same way humans can, then what would be the differences between the way that we label the environments we occupy? When I think about it, Humans are more or less constantly moving between new environments and have a constant need to keep track of the things they’ve seen, and might see later, whereas a tree stays in the same place its entire life. With it being that trees never move from where they are, and thus don’t actively change what they experience from moment to moment, would they worry about the need of labeling everything in their environment in the same way that humans do? Or would they be more comfortable simply existing in a more… wordless way, even if they had language.

Camila. A

Cami: Hello tree! You caught my attention, every time I pass by here and see you, I feel that you are a very wise tree and that you have lived through many experiences, but I have an existential doubt, just as we feel emotions, do you do it too?
Wise Tree: Hello human! I am a eucalyptus tree and I can live up to 400 years, and yes, I can experience a form of tranquility when my branches sway gently in the wind or when my roots absorb water. I also feel sadness when my leaves fall in autumn. Emotions are relative and have no fixed form or meaning.
Cami: And how do you face your storms or difficult moments?
Wise tree: I have learned to see life situations in a different way, when there are many storms and strong winds, I no longer feel afraid, on the contrary I feel freedom when my leaves move from one side to the other and I feel the breeze pass through my trunk and all my branches
Cami: And how can I live with more peace and more connection with nature?
Wise tree: Spend time observing and listening to the nature around you. Pay attention to the sounds of birds, the babbling of streams, and the rustling of the wind in the leaves. Learn to appreciate the beauty in the details and live more slowly.

Silvia Pillow Neretti ︎ Visual Communication & Web work ︎