INTERVIEW WITH: Desda Zuckerman, # 2.
INTERVIEW BY: Linda Milks
DATE: March 8, 2007
LOCATION: Novato, CA, at a park
This is my second interview with Desda. After meeting her once again at her studio / office, we head out in her car to a park area where there is a path leading up into the hills. Near the beginning of this path there are several redwood trees and bays and oak and rubber trees. We stop first at the redwoods.
Desda: (standing with her back up against a redwood tree.)
I begin to feel a kind of shaking. And it’s a physical sensation that I have that tells me that I’m connecting. I can actually feel it in the earth; it’s a type of trembling and very subtle.
On me it’s not so subtle, if you look at me you can actually see me shaking. (She holds out her arm and I do see the trembling. I touch her arm & can feel it too. I touch her face and leg but I don’t feel it there)
Oh yes, I feel it vibrating.
I’m vibrating. I really quickly tune in; it’s not like I have to work at it too hard. There is a way that my whole body is responding to this big, big, big old tree. So I’m tuning in and I say, ‘Hello, brother sister tree, hello blessed tree, it’s so good to see you again. How are you feeling?’
How are you doing?
And I usually wait because it takes them a while to collect. They don’t usually respond immediately.
It’s a female and she is essentially saying that she’s better. She looks better than the last time I was here. Her leaves are greener, her trunk is stronger, they’ve cleared some of the weird undergrowth they had in here (the park attendants), they’ve cleared it out so she has more light and space and she likes it here. She is happy.
When was the last time you were here?
I was here about a year ago, it’s been awhile. I’ve had trouble with my hip and haven’t been able to walk as far. I’ve just gotten it fixed so I’m out walking already. But I used to come here and visit her almost daily and we would talk.
So she remembers me and she doesn’t really see a year as being much time.
So is there anything you want to tell Linda about her project about trees speaking to human beings?
“We’re (trees) speaking all the time and all they have to do is listen.”
(Desda) That was very clear and very fast.
Thank you. Ask her about the kind of history she has seen. Would she be willing to tell about that?
Well, she remembers the family that lived here (there is an old house nearby); I know that, I can feel that in her. But let me see what she remembers. The family planted her here with her brother. And then the baby…She’s just got her own history. So the family planted her here with her brother, they came from separate mother trees but they were planted here by humans.
It looks to me like her understanding of time is different than mine. She doesn’t have a sense of time like in years or anything. So when we were small – and then this is her baby. See this tree over there, that is her baby.
(Desda points to a smaller redwood tree nearby, about 7 yards from the mother tree we are speaking with)
And my basic sense is that it’s been difficult for them, they’ve wanted to have more little baby trees but there’s been too much traffic under here (on this path near where we are standing) and the trees won’t grow and there was a problem with that awhile ago but she is hopeful that they’ll be able to have another baby tree nearby.
She’s only about 100 years old, is my sense. Right around 1900, 1905, something like that. Because the image that I’m getting from the clothing that the people are wearing look like about from that era.
I’m seeing a man with overalls, and a woman with a long dress, 3 children…A toddler in diapers and then two small children standing and planting these trees. The man dug the hole and then they watched as the father put them in. And that was their house over there. –They lived here and then they gave the property away. So I think that’s about what she’s seen. (the tree)
Now did she tell you this and you’re just repeating what she’s said.
What I’m repeating is the image that I saw. I heard her say that one phrase, that first phrase but the rest comes form her.
What is the tone of her voice?
Very quick, rather sharp. Like, only now you’re asking? – That kind of tone, a little impatient. But for a tree that’s really saying a lot because usually they are not. But she was a little frustrated.
Does she remember when she first cam out of the ground?
Yes, but it wasn’t here. It was in another location. That’s what I’m getting. She just transferred here. But that was in a different place, not far from the mother tree. So apparently she came from a nursery or someplace where they planted a seed or started a tiny seedling…
She didn’t just sprout here organically. ‘But they’ve planted them awfully close together, that’s the kind of thing human beings do, put redwoods too close together. In nature they wouldn’t be so close they would be a little further away unless they came from a mother tree but there wasn’t an old mother tree here.
I’ll show you the other tree…
(we walk just a few yards to a large rubber tree. People have carved names & initials into her trunk. The wounds are older, not recent)
When it first happened, this guy was really upset that he had been cut. (the tree was upset) and I came into the clearing and I heard, “I’ve been cut.” And I was looking around for where that came from and it was this guy, he had been defaced. His trunk had been scratched on. So I came over here and looked at him and I actually cried.
Desda puts some rescue Remedy on his trunk) I’ll give him some of this Rescue Remedy; even now he’s still recovering. You know it takes them awhile to recover.
___?? are indigenous to this area and they’re very sweet. Hi, how are you?
(she hugs up against the tree)
There now, I’m starting to shake, beginning to feel the connection. Do you have anything to say to Linda? He says, ‘tell her to hurry up’.
So my sense is that the natural world senses danger. There’s a sense of danger here. And that’s what this tree is referring to when with ‘hurry up. ‘We’ve got to let people know that there’s danger because maybe they can do something about it.
We meaning the trees or humans.
Humans. They would like to see humans do something about the danger.
What kind of danger?
This tree says, ‘in the wind, in the winds. You can feel it in the wind. (to the tree) So are you talking about chemical pollutants or something? They say yes, there’s a sense of danger with the chemical pollutants.
Coming on the wind.
Yes, but there’s also a feeling here from this tree that, you know, it’s OK, whatever happens, happens and …Trees are pretty philosophical. They’re pretty resigned, I mean they are in one location, they can’t get up and leave so it’s kind of like whatever comes my way, comes my way and I will be here with whatever happens.
Does he sense a danger from water?
Yes, the energy I’m getting is that it’s in the air, it’s in the wind, in her leaves and the water and the ground. It’s like I can feel it everywhere; the danger. (the tree). It’s the ground water, it’s the rain that falls, it’s the change of the climate – this is danger. It’s getting too hot.
Last summer it was the hottest summer ever and we had many days of over 110 degrees. These trees are not made for that heat, they really suffered, all the trees suffered. They got sunburned and you know dried and…And our rainfall this year has been a little low. So these trees are aware of what’s happening, they can feel the change of the climate. And then they are very concerned.
This is a very clear message from this beautiful bay tree, that’s probably 60 – 70 years old that things have changed in the last 60 -70 years. There is danger, there is something to be aware of. Thank you honey, thank you…
Does she give any idea of what we might do to help? What would help her?
Desda: ( translating from the bay tree)
‘Listen to the earth. Stop thinking you’re different from the earth. Human beings have to know that they are not separate from the earth; that they’re part of the earth. Stop thinking that you’re separate from the earth and that you’re smarter than the earth, and that you know more than the rest of the living creatures on the earth do. ( a minute or so pause)…
The image I’m getting is of an ant hill. So I’m getting the image of an ant hill and my sense is that the information she wants to convey with that is that we’re like ants. You know we build and build and build and build and we don’t really think all that much about any other part of the system other than our own little world, our own little ant hill. And she’s equating us to insects. (I laugh)
If you want to be more than an insect, if you want to have the wisdom of a tree you need to be aware of what’s around you in the air and in the earth. That’s the message. (we laugh) Otherwise you’ll always be insects! Pretty much absorbed with the survival of your species and not much else. But the tree has a connection with and is concerned about the world around it. And that’s really the big message. The big message is be more like a tree. Pay more attention to what’s around you. Stop and watch, listen, pay attention. Don’t just think that because you are human you don’t have to listen to the natural world. The natural world is speaking in many voices right now.’
I'm saying the words from the tree, this is the tree talking:
‘The natural world is speaking in many voices now and everyone needs to listen. The people of the world need to listen to the natural world that lives here around you that you ignore and fight with and that you think you’re more important than, because you’re not. ‘
Desda says: This is a very wise tree. Let’s go meet the diadora’s now. ( we go a short ways to another location )
If you’re going to work with a tree to gather information about an area where you’ve got a problem, a geopathic stress problem for example.
That’s a different kind of conversation than the one we were just having. The one we were just having, we were asking the tree what it thinks, what it feels, what’s its opinion is. It’s what we’re doing here today. It actually knows what were doing here today! You know it’s not oblivious to what is around it. It’s in tune with what’s around it.
(Desda continues as we get back in her car and move to go to her house close by on Eucalyptus St. in Novato)
Desda: - (at her home in her yard)
This tree is happy. The climate, the recent rains have made this tree feel better.
They’re telling me hello, how are you doing today? Just really subtle. This is really a loving tree you know, this tree is always responsive whenever I talk to him, I come out and he’ll say, ‘hi, how are you doing, are you OK’. And I’ll say I’m OK . And he’ll say, ’well good because I’ve been a little worried about you’. You know, we have this kind of relationship.
(This is a male diadora tree that Desda is speaking about in her front yard) –LM
When I wanted to buy this house the people who owned it were in Australia. so my husband and I came over here, it was at night, and I came over to this tree and I said, 'I want to buy this house, do you think it would be OK?' And this tree is the one who said, 'We will make it happen, it will happen.' And when we got this house, we were under the other bidders, they all had bid more money. Bottom line is, it was miraculous that we got this house!
Why did they choose you?
It was because that we felt the best to them and we looked really easy to work with. This tree was on our side!
This is a beautiful redwood tree that’s in the corner of Desda’s property. It is a she, and she holds the property…
Especially in this area. The diadora’s are kind of like princely but these are the workers.
This little tree (apple) has such a strong determined little spirit. These fruit trees, all they want to do is make fruit.
How old is this tree?
It’s a baby, it’s only a couple years.
When will it give fruit?
It’s already fruited. It fruited last year, gave us 5 little apples. But these olive trees, they don't put up with anything. They just grow, grow, grow, grow...They are always interested in the latest thing. you know like, "oh, are you going to cut that over there? Are you still thinking about that addition? Because we heard you talking about that..." They're interested!
It’s kind of like the olive trees want the local news and the diadora’s want the world news.
The diadora’s are much more in the world.