The thing about speaking with trees is that most people expect it to be like speaking with people. In fact, it’s almost totally alien in every way–about what you’d expect from beings that have less in common with humans than many species of bacteria.

Tolkien did get one thing right, though: trees move slowly. Except as saplings, it may take them years to process information or to pass that information on. Even then, they tend to notice things like unusual winds, heavy rains, changes in soil consistency, and the number of creatures touching them or moving over their roots.

Even those that have the gifts necessary to speak with trees must gird themselves for a lengthy process: getting even a single data point may take days, and converting a statement about the wind and water and roots and leaves into information useful to humans can take even longer. It’s an undertaking.

But when all’s said and done, nobody knows the forests better. If something happens, be it ten, a hundred, or a thousand years ago, the trees will notice.