The Noises of the Forest
The other day I wandered around the mountains for a bit. At one point I was in a mixed forest, on a plantation: pine, spruce, deciduous, it was quite young, but very, very thick, I could barely slip through the trunks walking on the paths of wild boars. At one point I stopped on such a path, waiting for my breath and my pulse to calm down, so that I could hear the sounds of the forest. By the way, the best way to listen and “feel” what is happening in the forest is this: sit still at ground level waiting for your breathing to return to normal and for your pulse to stop ringing in your ears, due to the effort you made and the continuous walking, after which you remain motionless with your eyes half-open, without focusing your gaze on anything in particular, just scanning the area with your eyes. Thus, your senses focus on hearing and, surprisingly, you begin to hear noises that you did not even suspect existed around you. The last stage is when you try to single out the noises produced by animals from the multitude of noises made by nature – the wind, the rustling of the branches, a twig that breaks and falls on the ground, etc. With a little exercise you begin to discern the birds, the barely audible jumps of a squirrel from branch to branch, the leaves slightly rustling under the footsteps of a fox or a deer, or the louder noises made by wild boars. In time, you will start to discern the direction of each noise – the forest is deceiving – and you will be surprised to find yourself “anticipating”, a few seconds before you actually see them, the presence of a fox, a rabbit or a wild boar comes from. All this amplifies enormously at night when the animals become much more active and you feel that you are in the middle of their furious nocturnal activity.
Getting back to the story, as my breathing and pulse became calmer, my hearing began to notice the noises of the forest and to distinguish those made by animals. After about an hour I heard a hiss and repeated knocks on the trees just above me. I looked up and what followed was a real show. I watched for more than an hour how a woodpecker was moving from tree to tree, tirelessly, according to rules only known to it, knocking vigorously on the trunks, cleaning the forest in the meantime. In more than an hour, the woodpecker covered an area of about 2,000 square meters, jumping from trunk to trunk and rummaging for parasites nesting under the bark of trees. And then I tried to make a simple calculation: how many square meters of forest does a woodpecker clean in a day if it covers about 2,000 square meters in about an hour!? The next question I asked myself was: how many square meters of forest could each man clear if he did that at least one day a month of his life?