Immortal Arboretum
  • Sep 30, 2020 1:00 am
  • 56:50 mins

Trees have been around a lot longer than human folklore has, which is probably why they’re ingrained in our early mythologies all the way up to our modern fiction. Whether it’s the mighty branches of the Norse World Tree, the sacred fig of Hinduism, Homer’s nymphs, or the living trees of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world, these magnificent plants have inspired literature and storytelling since humanity first wondered at their height and marveled at their seeming immortality. In a world where our trees are threatened by corporate expansion and deforestation, our storytelling history has become even more important in the fight for a healthy environment: when we allow the trees to walk and talk and relay the wisdom of ages, they are imbued with both power and humanity. So, in return for the life these plants give to us, today we’re giving the trees a voice. Join us as we listen to Jeff Gere, Kare Strong, Jane Stenson, Susan Reed, and more as they bring us tales from the forest where the people speak to the trees, and the trees speak back. On today’s episode, enjoy the following: “Guardian of the Trees” by Jeff Gere (9:11) Jeff Gere has a way with soundscaping, from his outlandish, mouth-made sound effects to his researched Hawaiian accents to his excellent musical accompanists. This track, which is part of a collection called Guardians of the Trees: Inspiring Tales of Hawaii, is accompanied by Les Adam (who Jeff calls the “Maui musical wizard”) on the piano and Alana Cini on the didgeridoo. The tale follows a construction site on O’ahu, Hawaii, where a plot of trees is being condemned to make way for a new parking lot. But just as the construction workers get to the site, a mysterious woman named Pele puts a halt to the whole project. “Sing ‘I Love You’” by Kare Strong and Josh Goforth (3:07) Rivers of Love was the first collaborative album by Kare Strong and Josh Goforth. It was honored with six national awards—including a Parent’s Choice and National Parenting Publications Award—for its family-friendly focus on respecting and connecting with nature. In this song, Strong’s tender vocals mixed with Goforth’s sweet fiddle paints a poetic, whimsical picture of nature brought to life: the flowers smile, the trees talk, and the rain dances. “Peony Hedge” by Jane Stenson (4:59) When the local elm tree is cut down, Jane and the local flowers wonder what could possibly replace such a majestic, long-standing part of their neighborhood. So, in memorial, Jane plants a row of Peony (pee-uh-knee) hedges and reminisces on how the Peony blossoms have continued to bring together the neighborhood, if only for the short summer period they bloom. From a collection of Stenson’s Connecticut tales called From the Connecticut Woods. “Yggdrasil, the World Tree” by Susan Strauss (12:39) On this track, Susan Strauss tells the traditional Norse creation story as found in the Gylfaginning, a 13th century Norse text compiled by the famous Icelandic poet and historian Snori Sturlson. The tale culminates in the birth of the great world tree, and the growth of its three great roots that connect the three Norse realms. “The Withering of the Boughs” by Kathy Cowan (4:33) Joseph Sobol's collection of songs is beautifully performed by the Kiltartan Road band—a group of artists consisting of Joseph Sobol himself, as well as Andrew Bird, Tom Orf, and Kathy Cowan. Each piece of music uses lyrics pulled from poems by the great Irish writer William Butler Yeats. In a conversation between a man and a tree, Yeats claims that dreams and emotional memories are more powerful than the winter wind—the boughs of the tree only wither when the speaker tells the tree of her dreams.  “Mulberry Tree” by Jenny Cargill-Strong (8:39) Jenny tells the tale of a mulberry tree that grew up alongside her—by the time she was big enough to climb, the tree was big enough to hold her. When a new set of cleanly neighbors move in next door, they accidentally kill Jenny’s mulberry tree after pruning the branches reaching over their fence. Will the young Jenny learn to forgive? And how will Jenny bring the memory of her favorite tree back to life?  Radio Family Journal: "Climbing Tree" (5:26) In today's entry into the Radio Family Journal, Sam reminisces about his family's beloved climbing tree.