Preparing for monsoon is an intense period in the forest. On the one hand the forest is parched for moisture, on the other, the intense rain will test the recovery of everyone. Every tree is swaying to the strong winds. After I calm my fears about the swaying trees and strange noises, I recognize a chorus. It is unique. Giant trees scattered across the mountains undoubtedly talk to each other…. maybe shout to each other.
The giant, hollow, bamboo strands rubbed against each other producing deep, hollow sounds, much like a tall person speaking to a midget like me. The tone is kind. The sound is gentle. There is rhythm and variation in the talk. They continue to talk to me through the dreadful drum of rolling thunder. I want to cross the rocky creek before the lightning splices through the dark cloud hanging at the mouth of the creek. I fear that rocks will split. I fear I will drown. The bamboo murmurs to me.
I hop over the rocks and scale the steep banks. I enter the forest and hit the path. I freeze. Was that the trumpet of an elephant? I sniff. I still. I hide behind a tree. One can never be sure in the wind. The large tree sways strongly. It emits a strange guttural noise. I feels the earth move under me. In panic, I hug the yellow fissure strained bark. I can’t get my arms around the tree. I sway with the tree. I scream. The tree emits another guttural growl.
I realize that I might not walk out of here to tell this experience. This could be my last conscious moment. As if in a trance, consumed by the movement and sounds, I sit at the foot of the tree. ‘Yes, you can!’ I tell the tree, punching the bark with my fist. ‘If I can, so can you! Everyone can! Don’t you dare to fall!’ The tree groans. I cover my ears and press my back to the bark and sit there, on a giant swaying root ball.
Much later I hear. The trumpet-like noise was coming from across the valley. It is another tree. ‘H…old on!’ I tell that tree. I can’t even see it. But I know that the tree knows. Nobody on my mountain will fall. Everyone will stand. It has to be.
‘Stand tall!’ I shout to the wind. I shout till I am hoarse. I shout until the wind dies. The rain falls gently. The water trickles and the soil soaks. Eventually, it forms a runoff.
‘We made it! We made it!’ I pat the bark. It has been hours since I came to the forest. There is no wind. The tree groans….not so guttural. The tenor is gentle. I hear the other tree trumpet. Others follow…..a cheerful chorus. I wait until it dies down. I feel honored by the giants.
Rani Iyer is the author of over ten non-fiction books and over seventy magazine articles. She writes about science, nature, culture, human-nature interactions, and natural ecosystems. Rani Iyer has visited and worked in many temperate and tropical forest systems in Asia and North America. Her favorite place on Earth is to be among the old growth mixed temperate evergreen rain-forests at the Olympic Peninsula. Her experiences as a tropical field biologist, scientist, instructor, laboratory assistant, and as an administrator inspire her to write. You can read more on http://www.raniyer.com/ and on her AMAZON page