Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Festival of the Trees # 31.

Happy New Year and welcome to FOTT#31! I hope one and all are safe and comfy and whatever the opposite of hung over is.

As you read this, I may well be up to my elbows in a tree—the Douglas fir that has served nobly as our family Christmas tree—for it is our custom to take the tree down on New Year’s Day. It was purchased at the local grocery store, and had been pre-pruned to tree-lot perfection. It’s not the most romantic way to procure a tree. Seabrooke of The Marvelous in Nature had us beat in that way, and moreover, her Green Christmas tree came pre-decorated.

With the solstice just past, there is still the bulk of winter ahead. This young season has hit much of North America hard already – even our allegedly balmy region has been clobbered. Thus it’s not surprising that the eyes and thoughts of the naturalists of this continent, of this hemisphere, have turned to trees--because that’s about all that’s sticking up above the snow.

Deciduous trees feature prominently in our posts. The starkness of branches against sky, shadows against snow, and the light-bending trickery of ice wrapped on slender twigs encourage prose, poetry and photography. Nina at Nature Remains presents a pair of stately trees, “magnificent markers in a resting landscape.” Carolyn at Roundtop Ruminations, though encouraged by lengthening days, produces a forest encased in ice. Misty Mawn is inspired to portray shadow and shape, and add a winter-tree haiku. Several of Dave Bonta’s Postcards from a Conquistador feature trees in winter. I linked to the first, but golly, see them all. And this one, from Daily Dose of Imagery, is of my alma mater. I walked there thousands of times: why don’t I remember you, tree? My head was full of other things.


Conifers in winter take a different approach. Instead of contrasting the snow, they become part of it. Jade at Arboreality provides two Christmas-card images, an eye-catching study of Douglas fir cones, and a moody ring of hemlocks.

Winter trees can present taxonomic challenges. How to recognize species after the leaves have dropped? Bark! Can you identify the trees in this post by Jennifer, aka WinterWoman? An exotic bark on a leafless tree stumped Amber of Birder’s Lounge, leading to the discovery of a native species with an interesting history and ecology.

No, this edition is not entirely boreal, foliage-free and frozen. Eric at I likE plants doles out the opposite with his account of Royal Poinciana, a tree that is beautiful for being beautiful, and then there is the Bunya-bunya tree, which is beautiful for its history and strangeness, as explained in a very entertaining post by Mr. Subjunctive of Plants are the Strangest People. The most far-flung contribution to this edition is from Admirable India. It includes a peepal tree in the Nagaraja Temple in southernmost India, where, wisely, snakes are worshipped.

We have posts about trees not so far away, but also not in one’s own yard, garden or neighbourhood park. Gary Valle of Photography on the Run has created-- and I hope I don’t lessen the appeal by calling it this –a virtual coffee table book of photographs and descriptions of rugged and otherwise charismatic trees he has encountered on his runs through the hills and mountains of California. Also in the great outdoors, Granny J of Walking Prescott shows that although not deciduous, Ponderosa Pines are also not tidy, and this trait can have combustible consequences. City-bound Jeremy Loveday, of mare pacificum, longs for weekend visits to the ancient trees of the British Columbia.

Turning back home, there are those who intimately know the trees of their property and local parks, and the history of those trees. Jean Morris of Tasting Rhubarb writes in praise of the old, interesting trees of Dulwich College, and of those from long ago who had the foresight to plant them. A century on, these trees balance and buffer the noise, bricks and concrete of a large city.

Marcia Bonta paints a historical treescape of nostalgic and ongoing human (and other zoological) connections to the well-known trees of the family property, the thrivers and the not, some planted as seeds or saplings, improbable others inherited. Readers of Round Rock Journal know that Pablo often includes musings on the forms, distributions, trials and tribulations of the trees of that acreage. But sometimes he forgets where some of them are.

I don’t know how to categorize this last bunch. Inspirational trees? Katie at Making This Home has included a children’s poem about changing seasons that features, natch, trees. Adea amici delgi alberi (Adea – Friends of the Trees) has linked to two short, imaginative videos that speak for themselves (but are definitely pro-tree). Finally, a dazzling series of images produced by Bluesky Studio shows altered images of altered oaks, trees denuded and damaged by Hurricane Katrina, but surviving. They are beautiful, hopeful images for the start of a new year.

Now to that tree in the living room. I shall hug it, and I shall lift it from its stand. It’s good to hug a tree, and when you do, don’t forget to look up.

Festival of the Trees # 32 will be hosted on February 1 by Treeblog. Please submit your blog posts, photographs, poetry, works of art, articles, news pieces, bark rubbings and anything else tree-related to mail [at] treeblog [dot] co [dot] uk, making sure that Festival of the Trees or FOTT is contained in the subject header. Alternatively, you can use the online submission form at You do not need to be the author or artist of the content you submit. The deadline for submissions is January 30.


Jade L Blackwater said...

What a wonderful collection - thanks so much for a great festival Hugh. Cheers, and Happy New Year!

BerryBird said...

Wow! A ton of great reading here... thanks for compiling it all so nicely. I was thinking of participating, but had too much family stuff going on to pull it together. Maybe another time.

Happy New Year!

inchirieri apartamente cluj said...

Great trees. And I think that these trees have every right to be called inspirational.

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