Inside the dying trees are many circles which mark their ages. We like to think it’s one ring per year but I don’t know if that is exactly correct. Makes it easier though, doesn’t it? To have a rounded out story like that to tell so that we can sound enchanting as well as intelligent. Using this rough calculation, if I were a tree I would have forty one rings around my neck at this very moment. I wonder how tall that would make me among the other trees. I once read that trees have a sensory map within them, that in a sense they can feel things, and feel each other. If a tree is sick, another one who is close by will wrap its roots around the suffering one in an attempt to share nutrients. It would seem that even as humans try to destroy the trees, the trees continue to try to save each other. They also try not to grow too much higher than the trees surrounding them so that they can all share the sunlight equally, thus ensuring they can all stick around and spread themselves nicely but not obnoxiously and grow. They want to be forests. They want to be together in big clumps because that is how they feel healthy and good. I’m not sure what we can learn from this but it seems to me the trees know something we have forgotten or maybe we just get exhausted of it. Connection. Sharing. Not trying to be taller than everyone else so that you get all the light and the rest get the rot. As I sit in the coffee shop smelling the fresh dark roast beans and steamed cream, I see the people on their cell phones and laptops, clicking away in bathed blue glow. Double espressos and knit scarves. Black leggings and nose piercings and finger tattoos. Somewhere out past the crowded street with all the traffic, a train whistles by on its squeaky steel tracks. People getting out of town. One by one, each customer enters and then leaves. I look up from my Patti Smith paperback and peer out the frosted window. There is something I cannot name which is busy eating away at my insides. I wonder if it is illness or just nerves as I listen to the coffee shop indie music softly interlace with the voices of the people all around me. Football games and cancer treatments. New puppies and all inclusive island vacations. Marriages planned and marriages severed into divorce. Funerals and Valentine’s Day, little red cinnamon hearts. Pink cupcakes and red roses and grade school dances in sticky gymnasiums. And maybe it’s me and maybe it’s nothing, but I get this feeling sometimes that I just cannot shake. That everybody’s talking and nobody’s saying a thing.