This issue of Festival of the Trees comes after a month of autumn color in parts of the northern hemisphere and at the beginning of a month of snow and thoughts of Christmas trees, whether you celebrate it or not. There seems to be something about this time of year that prompts reflection, and we begin with some of those.
One picks up a very nice sense of place when browsing through Carolyn Hoffman’s blog, Roundtop Ruminations. The autumn of 2008 brought a series of images, from full fall color through the final leaf drop and frost. Her post on the sense of ancient history one gets from trees goes well beyond the nature of a single season. As she says, trees “… are a living link back into the dimmest days of the pre-history of our planet. ”
Of course, one should never presume to summarize a poem beyond what the title tells you, but I couldn’t help thinking about the ents in Lord of the Rings when I read Dick Jones‘s The Green Man (sorry, Dick). The colors of Autumn Leaves inspired Juliet Wilson, the Crafty Green Poet, whereas the falling of the leaves caught Keith G. Tidball‘s attention in Soft Confetti. Go read these tree celebratory ones for yourself – they’re all worth it.
If the ents were awesome, think about the tree in the book Wizard of Oz that … well, see what it did and why Leslee of 3rd House Journal went Bwaahhhhhh! when looking at a particular tree at the Arnold Arboretum.
When GrrlScientist of Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted) was having a rough personal time, she took a photo-journey through the Anne Loftus playground in New York City. (Photo at left by Grrl Scientist.) The images and the virtual tour of this playground, which is within the 67-acre Fort Tryon Park in Inwood, Manhattan, offer us a lifting of the spirits, which surely GrrlScientist experienced as well. The playground, GrrlScientist says, was named in honor of Anne Loftus (1925-1989), a businesswoman and a neighborhood administrator, and the park was named for Sir William Tryon, who was a Major General and the last British governor of colonial New York.
In The Genius Of Frank Lloyd Wright Shines Through On An Autumn Afternoon we learn how Wright designed not only a house but the planting of pin oak trees around it. Anthony McCune gives us a photo tour of the place, showing why pin oaks were the perfect tree choice for the house.
Trees certainly do not live in a vacuum, alone among their kind. We had a few posts on the animals, including insects, that use or otherwise enjoy trees as well as a few posts devoted to the natural history of trees.
If carpenter ants had their own blog festival, they might very well name it Festival of the Trees, in appreciation for their lovely home sites. Seabrooke Leckie of The Marvelous in Nature found one of those home sites in Hidden in the Wood. Don’t be surprised if, after reading this, you find yourself scrounging for dead wood to try to see “…the surfaces of the tunnels … worn smooth from thousands of tiny little feet.”
And then Seabrooke went on to celebrate her 200th post, The living trees, by offering a beautifully written homage to a large American Beech tree that may, given luck, live to be 200 years old.
Dan Anderson of Exploring the World of Trees has a neat post with plenty of images on the “apple” galls of the Pyrenean Oak.
While browsing through Dan’s site, another post caught my eye and perhaps you will find it of interest as well: Christmas trees in Europe covers three firs, two spruces, and a pine.
Ash of Treeblog delves into mimicry of the peppered moth [treeblog’s cleft-headed looper (Biston betularia) – larva of the peppered moth], both when it is a caterpillar and when, famously in biology circles, it is an adult moth.
In the part of the country where I grew up, playing with horse chestnuts was a greatly anticipated part of our life every fall. It was great, then, to see a post by DN Lee on Osage Orange Trees with good photos of the large and unusual fruit.
I had not heard of areca nuts before reading Ben Barrie’s post – Sustainable Farming Maintains Biodiversity – on them, but I followed his link to the wikipedia article on the subject and found that they are sometimes (mistakenly) called “betel” nuts. That’s because the areca nut, a fruit of a palm tree, is often wrapped in a betel leaf from a vine in the Piperaceae family. They are chewed together for their stimulant effect. At any rate, areca nuts are valuable crops for reasons beyond their stimulant properties, and Barrie reports on a study that showed areca palms can be, and often are, grown in a way that maintains avian biodiversity. Ben’s post appears on John Barrie’s blog, Sustainable Design Update.
Winterwoman has posted an appreciation of the sweetgum tree along with a beautiful image of the tree, still with leaves, in the snow. I really envy Jennifer’s ability to convey a great deal of information in few words – in this brief post we learn about the distribution of the tree, its family, its main characteristics, its beauty, and its commercial uses, all in clear and engaging English.
Don’t leave Riverside Rambles before you check out Larry’s post on the Playground Tree. To look at this relative of the kapok tree, with its green (from chlorophyll) trunk and stubby thorns, is to wonder how it got there…and Larry imagines its arrival in a way you won’t want to miss.
Jen English walks Berkeley in all seasons, appreciating trees in all their states. Her tour of the fruit trees of Berkeley, which this fall included persimmons, pomegranates, and citrus, is a guest post at Local Ecologist
Leaves, a Book, and Tarot
This edition of the festival ends as it began, with reflections.
Jade L. Blackwater of Arboreality has been writing about Dr. Nalini Nadkarni’s book Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees and I for one have it on my wishlist at amazon. Now she has participated, briefly, in an NPR broadcast on the book. Jade also pointed us toward an artist working on a Gaian Tarot, including #10, which features a nurse log.
So that’s it for this edition of Festival of the Trees. Enjoy the end of the year, however you celebrate it. The Jan 1 edition of Festival of the Trees will appear at Rock Paper Lizard. Submissions should be emailed to talba (at) shaw (dot) ca, with “Festival of the Trees” in the subject line, no later than December 28.