A sounding board for the wind
Creaking tree
Creaking tree [2:50 · download]

 

20110110_sounding_board

Looking up. The microphone is visible on the dead tree, near the bottom of the photo.

It’s a sparkling clear winter day. Standing here on the forest floor, the air is cold and still. But high overhead, the canopy of tall pines catches gusts of wind as they roar past. It takes a second or two for the movement of the treetops to telegraph down through the trunks, setting in motion a beautifully choreographed dance of gently swaying, sliding, and scraping limbs. Here, a long-dead pine leans precariously against the trunk of a live one. Where they touch, friction has worn away the bark of both, exposing a hand-sized polished wooden surface. From this small point of contact come the deep squeaks and groans of wood-on-wood. The dead tree, hollow from rot, amplifies these noises, filling the woods with rich and colorful sound. This unremarkable husk of a tree has found new life as a glorious sounding board for the wind.