The Tree Gatherer

Lorenzo Pellegrini, Tree Gatherer

View the film here 

For more than 70 years the forest has been his home, it is his whole life. Since he was a child, he has lived from and through the forest, making use of its abundant riches: manufacturing wooden shoes, tools, firewood. Later, he spent the entire season in the Abruzzo region of Italy: 8 months far from everything, far from everyone, at 5 hours’ walking distance from the nearest village. On arriving there he had to build a shelter and live off the forest, doing everything by hand and by the sweat of his brow. There was no question of a chain saw or a horse; either would have been too expensive!

He then came to live in the Vallée de Joux 50 years ago. And ever since Lorenzo has been working, working, working, almost always alone. He reshapes the paths in the Risoud Forest, gardens the undergrowth, fells trees and cuts them up. When trunks are growing too close together, he climbs the one he wants to cut down and prunes it so that it will not wound its young neighbours with its branches. Lorenzo is 80 years old, and he still climbs trees like a squirrel.

He remains one of the only remaining woodsmen still capable of building pit kilns. His life in the Risoud nurtures him. Not only does he earn there what he needs to make a living, but he absorbs things that are vital to him, although insignificant or little known to most of us. When he looks at a tree, of course he sees it, like you and me; but he also listens to it, because the tree speaks to him and tells him information so subtle that Lorenzo is one of the rare human beings able to hear it. Even the smallest detail counts: the bark, the appearance, the branches, the ground... Lorenzo looks and he understands! He communes with nature and he knows. He senses the potential of each tree; he is capable of finding the perfect tree.