Helen Stewart’s TreeSong is a pastoral fable for today’s world, illuminated with richly textured and intricate, detailed images. We are called back to a time when all of nature was in balance and harmony, when the First Nations could hear the singing of the trees. We listen to the song of the Sitka spruce, a giant among trees growing in a giant rainforest of the Pacific Northwest.
With the arrival of Europeans, the fable begins to darken. Marching to the beat of progress, deaf to the Earth’s rhythms, the newcomers clear the old forests and settle
big cities. In time, industrialization
generates serious problems for all the world. The ancient Sitka shatters in the ensuing global storm.
Hope dawns when an instrument maker creates a cello from the tree’s wreckage and so revives the song of the forest. This fable ends on a hopeful note, resonant with ecological good faith.
Each of us, acting alone or in concert, can learn to find ways of helping to restore the balance and beauty of our natural world.
Professor of English literature
and environmental writing,
University of Alberta