I like to ask all the things I meet whether or not they dream. Some give me forward, understandable answers. Rob (the squirrel), for example, always tells me about a single dream he has where is he king of the forest and all efforts by all creatures of the forest must advance his influence and/or provide resources for him. He says his dream always ends with a large bird rebelling his rule and snatching him from his stick built throne. He always wakes up right as the bird of prey’s vicious talons enter his stomach. Strange but understandable.
I never ask for that much detail exactly, but I always figure it is good to let a squirrel express him/herself. Squirrels can act a bit… off when they do not get exactly what they want.
Some creatures have nicer dreams. A mole I accidentally sat on once and asked this question of to distract from the awkward topic of me accidentally sitting on her described very calming, sound based dreams. She told me that the sound of her tiny claws digging through soil relaxes her in her sleep for some reason as her mind recollects it during repose. It is usually accompanied with the mumbles and rumbles of things above her. I figured she would be frustrated by the sounds, but she explained to me that they are so familiar to her despite being a bit of a mystery, so they are soothing.
Not everything answers the question with a coherent response. Every raccoon I have asked, for example, has hissed at me as a response to my dream question. I realize that most of the raccoons are in the middle of a crucial dumpster diving expedition when I ask, but the hissing is really quite rude. Opossums, too, tend to respond in hisses as they rummage refuse.
The hisses are actually comforting compared to the silent responses I get from the most fascinating inhabitants of the forest. No rock has ever told me about a dream it has had. I have met many rocks, and not a single one has expressed even the slightest interest in dreams or sleep (or in other topics like water, fish, the sky, food, other rocks, or even the concept of silence). This sometimes leads me to suspect that perhaps rocks are not living, but I usually ignore this line of thinking since it seems to me inappropriate and slightly rude to presume the living status of something you are not living as. I am not, and have never been, a rock, so I have a hard time writing all rocks off as nonliving things.
Trees are a different story, however.
I know trees are living.
I know because they change in shape and color and they move and grow and sometimes I even think I hear them sing to me when it gets particularly windy.
But they never speak.
Trees do not take the time to speak to you. No tree will express joy, discontent, or any other emotion even if given a perfectly suitable platform to do so. Trees remain silent, and I think it might be a choice of theirs.
So, as you might expect, no tree will answer my dream question. I have asked nearly every tree I have ever encountered, but every tree I ask gives the same stoic silence that the last one gave me.
But I really want to know. I want to know if trees rest and if they do, I want to know if they dream and if they do, I want to know what they dream about. I think things that dream tend to dream about the things they witness, feel, consider, and experience. Trees have the time and space to consider and witness just about everything, so their dreams must be amazing concoctions of patched together bits of everything that has been, is, and ever will be.
Their nightmares must be terrifying.
As interesting as it must be to be there for everything, it must also lead to some traumatic experiences. Trees see the bad, nasty side of the forest. They see the part of the forest that insists you survive off anything you can find if you desire to survive at all. They see how cruel winter can be to every creature and how the blistering sun can be during the summer and how there just are not enough resources for every creature and how babies of any species can be desserts for another species.
That must make for some terrifying nightmares. A tree suddenly waking from a horrible dream must make for intimidating sight. Imagine all the thrashing it could do with those desperate, all-seeing limbs.
If you would like to try being a bear, why not read some of the bear adventures available on this very site?
For any questions or comments directed at Bear, feel free to write to him using this email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also read a list by Bear that details how to approach opossums over at The Higgs Weldon.