Ms. Claus and I were sitting around the campfire in the courtyard one night as the elves made their favorite snack, s’mores. “It’s always fun watching them roast their marshmallows,” I said turning to face my wife. “But it never fails to turn into a contest of making the best. Now I prefer mine…”
Smiling, Anya put up her hand. “Lightly toasted where the center is so soft, it’s almost liquid,” she finished.
Laughing loudly, I watched Lyle, one of my newest elves as he came over and offered Anya and me each a toasted marshmallow. Even though mine was a little burnt on one side, I smiled and thanked him. As I was eating it, he asked, “Santa, I know you deliver all over the world, but I was wondering…” Hesitating as if thinking, he finally finished. “Do you know all the different languages spoken around the world?”
“I do know several, but have to confess, I do not know all of them.” Watching him scratch his head, he looked a bit confused, so I continued. “See the elf wearing an orange-colored, French Beret, instead of the traditional elf hat,” I said pointing in the direction for him to look. Once he nodded, I added, “Well that’s Babble. During his vast travels, he has learned the dialect from many different countries. His knack for learning languages is phenomenal.”
“So, he interprets for you?”
“Yes, he does. I don’t know what I would do without him in some places.”
Rubbing his chin, the young elf asked, “What do you do if the child cannot speak or is deaf?”
“That’s an excellent question,” Anya said. “There are many children with hearing issues who cannot communicate with words like us. Some are able to read lips,” she explained while lightly brushing my beard and mustache, “but as you can see, that would be hard with Santa.”
“Very funny dear,” I responded. Looking back toward Lyle, I added, “Most hearing-impaired people use sign language to communicate. I know a lot of the basics, and usually the parents will help interpret for me if I don’t understand.”
Ms. Claus leaned over toward the elf, who had sat on the ground in front of us. “Did you know all living things have ways of communicating with each other. For instance, the different sounds the birds make all have meaning to other birds.”
“So even the roar of a tiger or bear is just them communicating?” Lyle wondered aloud.
“Exactly!” Anya exclaimed. “Their roars vary slightly to mean different things to other tigers or bears.”
“I never thought about that before,” the elf responded.
“You know it is not just creatures that have a way of communicating,” I informed him. When both Anya and Lyle looked at me like I was crazy, I smiled and explained, “Some plants and trees have been known to communicate with each other.”
“Is this another one of your silly stories?” Anya demanded to know.
“Ho, Ho, Ho, do you really think I would make that up?”
“Well, of course,” Anya responded as Lyle giggled.
“I was visiting some of my J.A.T.S. (Jolly Assistants to Santa) recently, and the wife of one of them, Dr. Suzanne Simard, who has been studying trees for some time, told us about tree communication. According to her, trees transmit messages by sending chemical, hormonal, and even slow-pulsing electrical signals to each other.”
Several of the elves must have overheard what I was saying and began sitting and standing around Lyle. “According to Suzanne, trees have a sense of touch, smell, and hearing.”
“I think you’re making this up, Santa,” Peppermint hollered from the crowd of elves.
“I am dead serious!” I insisted. “For example, if a pine tree is cut or injured, the tree senses that and immediately sends sap to the affected area to begin the healing process. It’s similar to the way our bodies react to an injury.”
“How do they hear?” asked another elf.
“Though scientists are not sure exactly how, Dr. Simard explained that trees emit and detect sounds through their roots at a certain frequency. According to her studies, a tree’s roots grow toward the sound of running water, and certain flowering plants make their nectar sweeter when they hear the buzzing of a bee’s wings.”
“That all sounds fascinating, but what about smelling? How does she know they can smell?” Anya wanted to know.
“I found that to be the most interesting thing I learned from the doctor. Trees and plants apparently smell through their leaves. For example, she told us that the Acacia tree, whose leaves giraffes love to eat, will produce some sort of gas when the leaves are being eaten. When the neighboring trees pick up the scent, they begin pumping tannins into their leaves.”
“What’s tannins, Santa?” Lyle asked.
It’s like a poison, and if a giraffe eats enough of it, they will get sick and can even die from it.”
Shocked by what I just said, Ms. Claus shook her head declaring, “That’s terrible! I love giraffes. How do they survive if that’s their favorite source of food?”
“I was just as stunned and asked her the same question.”
When I hesitated, several elves shouted, “Well what did she tell you?”
“Apparently, the giraffes are smarter than you might think. Seems they figured out that if they eat from the trees facing the wind, the trees won’t smell the warning gas, or if they eat from trees at least 100 yards from the others, the gas won’t reach them.”
When I finished, the elves nodded their heads and began talking quietly while returning to the fire to make more s’mores. Hugging my arm, Anya remarked, “Thanks for sharing that. I find it amazing how many levels of communication there are in this world. Who knew that trees communicated with each other.”
“Yes, it shows you just how connected everyone and everything is in our world,” I replied, standing up. “Now let’s go over and talk one of the elves into making me the perfect s’more.”
“I know,” groaned Anya smiling “Lightly toasted with a center so soft it could melt in your mouth.”
“You know me so well, my dear!”
Notes From Santa
I hope you enjoyed today’s story. I will post another one on May 15, 2022. If you have any comments or if there is something you would like me to tell you about, please feel free to leave me a comment. Until next week . . .
To read more about Trees Communicating please check out:
To read more about Babble and Communication please check out:
To read more about Elf parties and celebrations please check out:
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Picture from Luxe Adventure Travel