Peter Wohlleben, in his groundbreaking book ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ notes that many a tree trunk in many a forest still lives on thanks to the trees around it. They ‘feed’ it through their own roots, looking after their own so to speak. Which is just as well, since we humans very often use our leafy friends as mere political pawns. We claim to guard our climate by cutting down fuel emissions through improving cycleways, and to do so we cut down trees. Good then that there are humans out there looking out for the welfare of our leafy oxygen guardians, and Sunday was a chance to meet some of them as well as a day to enjoy good local music in a good local park on a good sunny Summer afternoon.
Created in 2020, “Baumwächter” or ‘Tree Guardians’ in English, was the initiative behind Sunday’s relaxing event. “We give trees a voice – because every tree counts!” is the motto here.
Local personality Konrad Beikircher who opened the event was convinced that the best answer was “Verantwortung selbst zu uberrnehmen” Take responsibility ourselves for the environment. Using the comparison that, if we saw a person in need of help, we would try to help them. So should it also be with trees, don’t you agree? I’m thinking that if this were Marvel Comics, the trees would have their own superhero to defend them.
Maybe they do have someone though. Not Superman, or Batman even, but The Greenman. John Harrison and Eva Henneken kicked off the afternoon’s music with two songs referencing that Pagan symbol of death and re-birth The Green Man. Good to hear the second of these especially as it was penned by former Folk Club guest Martin Donnelly.
A highlight of the music for me was the blossoming of the musical partnership between Eva Henneken and the UN-based band CAYU. Eva has become an indispensable part of Folk Club Bonn’s musical landscape with her fiddle playing, but she is becoming an ever more confident and accomplished vocalist and is now showing a deft hand for finding powerful lyrical material that has until now been overlooked. ‘Bones of Poets’ for example, inspired by ‘Heaththside’ a poem penned by feminist poet Dorothy Parker. Parker was known for her acerbic wit and courage to speak her mind, as when she stated “Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.”
Another lyrical find put to music is the new song added to the CAJU set:“Farbspiel”. sung in English and German, it was written by René Brodermann, an intensive care nurse who works on COVID-19 wards and describes the compassion he feels when treating acutely ill ICU patients. It is a compassion that Eva, with her own GP Practice on Meckenheim, can very much relate too and there is an intensity in her fiddle solo that is almost at odds with the carefree feeling of an audience relaxing in a shady Summer park amongst the trees.
As noted, there is some fascinating new music being laid down by CAYU these days alongside the older evergreens of their past repertoire. Today’s set was further enriched by a short but powerful poem by Katherine MacAlister who is herself a medical student. It seems that the trees, in Park Carstanjen at least are in the best of medical hands.
If the Greenman struggles to cope with Human intervention in Nature then he can also look for assistance by the Red Rebels. The Rebels are a Street Art Theatre Group representing ‘Extinction Rebellion’ a larger collective calling for acknowledgment of Climate Change and the creation of a system that would allow more involvement in decision-making from Citizens Assemblies (Bürgerinitiatives).
If all of that sounds very deep and demanding, ‘Die Roten Rebell:Innen’ to give their german title, actually delivered a performance that was powerful for its simplicity. A silent funereal procession of scarlet-clad fingers walking solemnly and slowly down to a freshly planted tree with a red bucket. They arrive at the tree, tip the bucket over, and, to agonized faces from the mysterious figures assembled, it is empty. No water. Very simple. Very effective.
Fortunately, at present there is water for the trees in Park Carstanjen. During the recent hot spell water was brought up from the Rhine for the giant Copperbeech Tree in the Park centre. There is even a note on the Baumwächter website:
“Bei andauernder Hitze und Trockenheit im Sommer – Juli bis September – treffen wir uns jeweils sonntags um 14 Uhr wieder zum Gießen von Bäumen im Park Carstanjen”
On Sunday at least, our thirst for live music was also quenched after a long drought. May both Trees and Live Music now flourish.