Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Song of the Open Road"

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree;

Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all.

– Ogden Nash, (1902 - 1971)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ginkgo Biloba

Walking through town the other day, I came upon this Ginkgo tree. I can clearly remember the first time my mom pointed out a Ginkgo to my sister and me - the distinctive shape of the leaves was forever etched in my mind and I've taken pride in being able to identifying a Ginkgo from that day forward. Not that it's difficult. Once you've seen one, you won't forget it. The fan-shaped leaves and bright golden color in the autumn make it easy to recognize.

But I've just learned something fascinating about the Ginkgo tree. It is considered a "living fossil," which basically means that it lived during ancient times, was once thought to be extinct, but then was rediscovered, and still exists today in a form very similar to the fossils of its prehistoric ancestors. The horseshoe crab and the cockroach have changed very little over millions of years, and are also considered living fossils.

Scientists do not know whether the Ginkgo tree still exists in the wild because it has been cultivated and tended for thousands of years by Chinese monks. The monks may have helped keep the species alive when it otherwise may have gone extinct. In any case, the Ginkgo is a wonderful tree. A brilliant example of longevity. And Ginkgo extract has also been used medicinally to help circulatory disorders and enhance memory.

May the Ginkgo live another 270 million years!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Pride of Statesville, North Carolina

Calling all collectors of old postcards! Or Tar Heels! There is currently an exhibit of old North Carolina postcards in the North Carolina Collection Gallery in Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But...if you can't get there to see it, you're in luck – North Carolina Postcards is a digital project that contains over 800 images of postcards from the Tar Heel State online (just a sampling of the more than 12,000 NC postcards held in the Photographic Archives of the North Carolina Collection at UNC Chapel Hill). It's kinda cool if you're into old postcards or historical images. Or North Carolina. You can search by location or subject, or just browse (like I did. I'm a sucker for stuff kept in the archives of any library).

While you're at it, check out "North Carolina Miscellany," to get more culture, history, and literature from the Tar Heel State. It's a blog kept by the folks over at the North Carolina Collection. I must say, North Carolina has treated me well these past 4 and a half years, though I'll always be a northern girl at heart.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hyperion, the tree

There is a new "Tallest Tree In The World." Three, in fact. Last September (2006) three giant Coast Redwoods were found to be taller than the previous record holder, Stratosphere Giant. Our new winners, Hyperion, Helios and Icarus, all put old Strat to shame. Hyperion, our beloved winner (and Tallest-Living-Thing-In-The-World) is 379.1 feet (115.55 m) tall. That's more than 72 of me stacked up on top of myself! It's also 75 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty and more than one third the height of the Eiffel Tower.

Don't you just love trees with names?

The photo above may or may not be Hyperion (probably not). The exact location of the tree is not being disclosed for fear of too many visitors who may disrupt the surrounding ecosystem, or try to climb old Hype. I don't blame them. I'd love to see these trees. We do know that they reside in a remote area of Redwood National Park in California.

Read more about it here
and here.
(That last link is a really cool website about Redwoods and has some amazing tree pictures.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Creepy tree

Here's today's "makes-me-feel-like-I'm-in-a-scary-movie" tree.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Emily Leonard

Today's featured artist is Emily Leonard.
Emily is “always looking for a place that hints of both past memory and future awareness.” In one of her artist statements, she describes her thoughts about space and spaces; spaces between people, places, objects... I've not seen any of these paintings in person, but my sister has, and found them "personally moving." Check out more of Emily's work:

Monday, July 2, 2007


"I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech tree or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines."
– Henry David Thoreau