Thursday, June 28, 2007

Forever green

Some sort of interesting evergreen tree. Isn't it marvelous? Looks like dancing fingers. I just love looking at trees this closely. It makes me feel like I know a secret. I feel fairy-sized, like I can tiptoe up a branch if I wish. Click on the photos above for their full size. You'll see what I mean.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Plum tree

Today I saw a plum tree. I actually discovered it yesterday as I was taking a walk in Arlington, VA (while visiting a friend) and the sidewalk suddenly became sticky and red. I was astonished to find my feet surrounded by squished plums and exposed pits. I don't believe I'd ever even considered the existence of plum trees, and there I was, standing directly under one. I looked up and saw the little fruits hanging in small clusters and could faintly detect the unmistakable scent of fresh plum juice.

Today I returned with my camera so I could share my discovery. Are plum trees common? I have no idea. I've never encountered one before that I can recall. There were so many neglected fallen plums that I expect the novelty has worn off for those who live with the tree. But I think I would enjoy having a fruit tree in my yard. The only (and very significant) aversion I have to it is that it appears that plum trees attract squirrels. Evil, black ones. I watched as one Evil Black Squirrel would nibble a plum for a while, and then throw the rest of it to the ground, and move on to the next one. Do NOT get me started on squirrels...

Seriously. (you can see the little bastard approaching the tree if you click on the photo above and view it larger).

But back to the plum tree. It was a lovely discovery and I felt that I couldn't walk away without tasting one. There were a few plump ones on the ground, but as I couldn't be sure whether or not an Evil Black Squirrel had thrown them down, I felt it best to pick one from the tree. I did so, and took a bite, and it was delicious. A bit tart, but I suppose that's because I didn't want to risk squirrel disease and picked one slightly under ripe. I ate the rest and walked away satisfied.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

City tree

As much as I love the thought of urban life, there is something sad to me about trees in the city. They don't have the fresh air that country trees get to breathe, and I assume they can't spread their roots as easily because of the buildings and streets and sewers and everything else below street level. They always seem a little lonely and resigned, and tired. The incessant city noise must be tiring if you are a tree.

Yet, as I am planning a move to Brooklyn next year, perhaps I should begin to view city trees differently or I will undoubtedly become terribly depressed.

Looking again at my little tree friend above, I believe I can see a determined strength in it's young branches. I imagine it finds great joy in reaching as high as it can to find the sun's rays that are frequently blocked by the tall buildings. I think I would probably actually be quite pleased to come upon this little tree again when I move to NY and perhaps it's not as sad as I once thought. I certainly hope not.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Giving Tree

Perhaps one of the best books about a tree, EVER. The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein is a heartfelt tale of a tree and the little boy she loves. It is a thought-provoking story that raises questions and might bring a tear to your eye. There is controversy surrounding the story because it can be interpreted many ways, and while beautiful and hopeful to some, it comes across as cruel and offensive to others. I think this is the nature of any good will touch each reader differently and evoke varying emotions - hope, fear, nostalgia, joy, pain, curiosity, admiration. Whatever the case for you when you read The Giving Tree, it is worth reading.

As a side note, Silverstein is one of my favorite childhood poets and illustrators. His humor is a bit twisted and his line drawings are hilarious. You may be familiar with the poem below, but if not - you should be (this has absolutely nothing to do with trees, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless).

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out.
She'd wash the dishes and scrub the pans
Cook the yams and spice the hams,
And though her parents would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceiling:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas and rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the windows and blocked the door,
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peels,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans, and tangerines,
Crusts of black-burned buttered toast,
Grisly bits of beefy roast.
The garbage rolled on down the halls,
It raised the roof, it broke the walls,
I mean, greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Blobs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from old bologna,
Rubbery, blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk, and crusts of pie,
Rotting melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold French fries and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That finally it touched the sky,
And none of her friends would come to play,
And all of her neighbors moved away;
And finally, Sarah Cynthia Stout
Said, "Okay, I'll take the garbage out!"
But then, of course it was too late,
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate;
And there in the garbage she did hate
Poor Sarah met an awful fate
That I cannot right now relate
Because the hour is much too late
But children, remember Sarah Stout,
And always take the garbage out.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

4 in a row

There's something very charming about these 4 trees, though the photo is not the greatest. My apologies for that. I would like to invite any of my readers with more tree knowledge than me (for I'm sure you're out there) to comment on any post in which I don't seem to know what I'm talking about. Do you know what type of tree I've shown? Do you have a fun fact about trees? Post!

For example, did you know that Oak trees can start producing acorns after 20 years, but some trees live to be 50 before their first acorn production?

I have discovered that there are other tree lovers out there with their own tree blogs. I intend to keep discovering them and sharing them here. Please check my links frequently for updates. For now, if you're dying to find more arboreal links, try Festival of the Trees.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Today's featured artist is Cary Henrie. I just absolutely love his paintings. I fell in love with them on a visit to a gallery in Seattle and have been wishing I could imitate his work ever since, just to have a painting like this hanging in my house (because I'm sure I can't afford one of his). Henrie's work is even more amazing in person. The texture on the canvas is incredible, and of course I am drawn to the trees...They are peaceful. Beautiful.
see more of his work here and here and here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Whenever I see new little leaves I get quite excited. These could each become a great big branch someday. Seriously, it's as if I've just discovered how trees grow...just this year. Walking along a nature trail in early spring I was amazed to see new little sprouts growing from what looked like dead tree branches. In my head, I know this happens every year. That's what autumn is all about...the leaves change colors and fall off, and the trees are bare all winter. Then, the leaves grow back in the spring. It's all so simple, really. But for some reason I really took notice this year and it seemed amazing. All those dead-looking, bare winter trees everywhere...they all come back to life. Little buds and leaves grow right through the "dead" bark. They are determined to grow, and I love it. New little sprouts. They're alive! Trees are alive. How cool is that. I love looking at trees close-up – it offers a good change in perspective.

Saturday, June 9, 2007


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

– Joyce Kilmer, 1913

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Today's featured artist is Philippa Lawrence, and her project, "Bound." Her travels around Wales gave her a great appreciation for the land, and led to this project of "wrapping" old, dead trees, bringing them into the public eye. Her work celebrates these beautiful trees that otherwise may have been overlooked or passed by. These photographs document the project and can be purchased at her site. I think they are amazing. Check out her site and see more bound trees:

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Misunderstanding trees

"A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?"
– Ronald Reagan, 1966

How sad for him.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Secret gardens and church yards.

Some of the best trees have a backdrop of an old chapel or an ancient cemetery. This little beauty is situated in a lovely garden just outside the National Cathedral. The garden has a certain nostalgia about it, as many gardens do, and there are a few hidden areas along stone paths that make it feel quite like a secret garden. Perhaps one day I'll have a large garden in my back yard with a stone pool and fountains and trees and secret paths.

I'd expect to see a tree with this type of personality to be much, much older and wiser. It looks almost too small and thin to have such ancient looking, gnarled branches. It's like when you see a baby and it looks just like an old man. An old man in the body of a small child. It's sort of creepy.