The tree that falls in the forest.
A “Hot Flashes” column by Sue Langenberg

It is the ultimate question in life. If no one heard it fall, then did it happen? I’ve often thought how arrogant of us humans to think that we are the Chief Executive Officers of trees that stand around in forests minding their own business day and night without our instructions. I have walked near and through many forests in my life and no tree to date was waiting for me to schedule leaves to fall, buds to bud or locations for birds to nest.
So the next question might be, “If a human trips over the laundry basket and falls down the stairs, does the tree in the forest cup a branch in that direction and snicker at how clumsy of this strange house dweller?”
The spin-off question has also been, “If a man says something and a woman and is not around to hear it, is he still wrong?” But I digress into a bad male-bashing habit.
Our vast environment has endless functions going on at any given time and because we don’t happen to hear it, they happen quite normally. If you do not notice, it’s no big deal. Unless, of course, you include the toddler finding trouble in another room to the sound of silence. That is invariably bad news that you must immediately hear and tend to.
About trees that fall if no one hears them, it can also be said the same thing about idle talent. There are a lot of potential geniuses dwelling on this earth, but if they head for the couch, then certainly no one hears them. Talent refers to output and production, rather than an idle thing that falls onto the couch.
Back to the forest, if I happened to be that tree before the fall, I would uproot myself and dance to the music of gentle breezes around the tree next door, especially if he were cute. I don’t know, do trees have he’s and she’s? If a cute male tree, I would flirt and tell him what muscular branches he sports and how tall, green and handsome. But the moment he dropped his smelly leaves all over the forest floor, I’d have to inform him that I am not his personal valet and move onto to a more properly raised gentleman tree who knows how to clean his mess.
While breezing myself around the forest, I would visit the gal trees and gossip about those no good treemanizers and how helpless they are about keeping their trunks clean. We girl trees would also compare notes about our latest designer blossoms and where there were the best orchards for salads and vineyards for wine. We would all agree about svelte trunks, fall colors and who was the fairest and most vibrant of all.
Then I would dance further to the edge of the forest and notice that those humans yonder were most inferior to us stately trees. They don’t even know how to shade themselves or last several centuries or more.
And so it seems that the falling trees have the same dilemma as we tripping-over-laundry-basket humans. They are innocently minding their own business as we are, and because no one hears either one of us, time moves on and no one seems to notice.
If I were about to fall from lightening in the forest, I would call for my last treat. Probably chocolate, expensive wine and the cute tall, green and handsome tree next door. I would gorge myself on all things that everyone else should hear, then it would be time to fall.