Friday, June 01, 2007

Woods and Trees


Tom Thompson painted wind and water, but mostly trees.

I have always been surprised how many different kinds of trees share our town lot: at least four kinds of maple, a rowan tree, a yellow pine and a white, a red alder, cedar, box elder, a weeping spruce, a slippery elm, a narcotic ivory silk lilac, a smoke tree.

A juniper wards the western compass, a spindle tree, the eastern door.

We lost the lombardies in a wind storm. For safety,we had to remove the black spruce that challenged the church steeple across the way but we replaced it with a paper birch trio.

Our trees are more than inter-state for squirrels, or Pizza Hut for piliated woodpeckers, they are responsible, along with a contour line, for the micro-climate change between the front garden and the back.
When the wind sings with them, it is time to dream.

Trees are central to our cultural and religious myths and therefore our literature: Adam/Christ, Odin dendrata, the Golden Bough, Ents Tolkien) and Elcrys (Brooks), Ivy Trees ( Stewart) and Rosemary Trees( Goudge) and Cherry Trees ( Washington) - sentient or symbolic, solitary or syndicated.

Nymphs. Lurks. Darksome woods. Dark and deep. Mystery, magic and maze.

Woods and trees.

I don't like stories where there are no trees.

Do you have a favourite tree character/symbol/scene?


Anonymous said...

I like the Ents in Lord of the Rings.

Erik Ivan James said...

Among the wooded lands I hunt, there is a parcel of approximately 250 acres that, to the best of my knowledge, has never been forested. It is land-locked with a small river along the west boundry and expansive tracts of state land along the other three.

I often wade the small river to wander and dream among those virgin trees. Even in the winter I have waded that small river to enjoy the wonders of them.

My ashes will go there.

Bernita said...

I liked them too, Steve. They were very well done in both the books and the movie.

I like that, Erik, to be part of the green dust.

kmfrontain said...

My son and I somehow ended up on a discussion of crematory remains yesterday. We mentioned trees, but since I'm practical and know many trees around here can end up as firewood any time, I said to him he could always toss my ashes on the potato field and remember mum next season while eating his spuds.

A favourite tree scene for me:those scary trees in the forest of Mirkwood in The Hobbit, or the other scary trees in the forest near the White Tower in LOTR. Love scary tree scenes. Loved The Poltergeist movie tree, until I saw the movie years later and saw how goofie the damned tree looked (after all the better special effects that happened over the years), but the concept is still brilliant.

Bernita said...

You have an objection to burning twice, I take it, Karen!
Even without special effects, natural trees can look very grotesque and scary at times.

Anonymous said...

When the wind sings with them, it is time to dream.

What a great line.

Beautiful post. And a stunning painting. It really does capture a sense of wind.

EA Monroe said...

Hi, Bernita! Among the VOW stories I am writing and have written, trees and forests are an integral part of the story. The trees of the Abeytu hold many secrets, many wonders.

Oh yes, trees and woodlands hold a special place in my heart and my memory. Even today, the memories of climbing to the highest branches of a tree and riding the wind remain fresh and vivid.

Let's go climb a tree, Bernita!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jason.
I find many of Thomson's lesser-known works more evocative than the most popular.

Elizabeth, you remind me of a line in Alexander's Taran Wanderer series which goes something like: "Each year you have to learn the trees again."

Sam said...

I can't pick a favorite tree, but linden trees come close. I especially love their honey-like scent in the spring and I usually drink linden blossom tea in the evening. They have large, heart-shaped leaves and when they flower the scent is so heady you can only stand a few minutes beneath the tree.
They are also called Tilia and Lime trees.
Their branches are used for divining water, and the tree is associated with the Norse goddess of love, Freya.

Scott from Oregon said...

There were always, of course, them hangin' trees.

My favorite tree is the curly willow.

I raise them up from clippings, contorting them as much as possible, even tying knots in them, and then I give them to people to highlight their gardens.

They can be amazing to look at in winter.

Well OK. AFTER the giant redwoods we have round here. How can you deny them their superiority?

archer said...

I had to stand up in front of my fifth grade class and recite an awful poem called "The Tree" by Bjornstern Bjornsten or some such unpronounceable poet. In the end I forgave trees.

My favorite tree scene is the kid getting chased down the tree by a jeep in Jurassic Park.

Bernita said...

Sounds wonderful, Sam.
The ivory silk is like that - narcotic almost.

Scott, thought any tree would do for a hangin'...
That's a fascinating form of topiary. More related to the art of espaliery?

What fictional use of trees has caught your fancy?

Charles Gramlich said...

I was out for a walk yesterday evening late, along a dirt road through rows of trees--pines, oaks, dozens I could not name. I was thinking to myself, how can anyone live without trees around. they're wonderful

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I'll have to post on this. We are losing entire old growth pine forests near Rocky Mountain Nation Park (and in my beloved Grand Lake) due to bark beetle infestation. I'd suggest if anyone wants to come see R M N Park look anything like it does presently to come soon.

It won't be the same in our lifetime.

The scariest bit? I predicted a similar scenario in my fourth book before the beetles ever made it to CO.

writtenwyrdd said...

My current WIP has the Beauregrave, who is a faerie that takes the form of a tree quite often.

Bernita said...

I think I've missed something, Archer!

They give a lot besides beauty, Charles.

And there's not a lot one can do to stop that sort of thing, SS. One reason why I hate to see plantations of a single species.

I like that, Written.

Vaguely remember some myth about "trees by day, warriors by night."

raine said...

My favorite trees are the old, gnarled, weathered kind. I have a weathered, twisted apple tree out back that fits the bill, and a few oaks in the cemetary close by.
I love the strength of these trees, the stories they tell. The way they stand out against a white winter sky, their shapes like negative space.

I'm also old enough to remember elm trees. So sad, that.

As for scenes...Jane and Rochester beneath the chestnut, of course.

And the Cheshire Cat. :-D

Oh, and the great trees in The Wizard of Oz who threw their apples when angry.

Okay, I'm going now, lol!

Bernita said...

"The way they stand out against a white winter sky, their shapes like negative space."
That's lovely, Raine.

When we were searching for a place in the country, one of my enduring memories is the that of the children running for an old apple tree in a certain property's back yard.
Of course, we bought it.

Scott from Oregon said...

Thinking past the Ents...

Sherwood Forest and Tarzan's jungle...

both playground's for the rich and famous...


I'd have to say trees that support grown men playing in them.

I find the "dark woods" to be somewhat of a cliche, now.

Bernita said...

More of a convention, I hope, Scott.
Swiss Family Robinson had a lovely tree.

takoda said...

Bernita, A lovely posting.

Whenever I want to feel closer to God, I go to where there are trees. I haven't met a tree I didn't love, but Maples are my favorite. My boys and I try to go every winter to one of the parks and 'tap' a maple. It usually comes with all-you-can-eat pancakes!

I wish we lived out West. Colorado is my dream state. I just gotta start selling some manuscripts....

writtenwyrdd said...

Oh, I like that, Bernita! I'll have to see if I can use it for the tree folk.

Bernita said...

We tapped our maples here once, Takoda - just to show the kids how it's done, at 40 to 1.

takoda said...

Hi Bernita, Just once!?
And you call yourself Canadian?

Just kidding!

40 to 1. That's just as surprising every time we hear it. For those non-maplers, it takes 40 gallons of tapped syrup to get 1 gallon of the stuff you buy in a store. The remaining liquid is boiled off.


Bernita said...

I helped collect maple sap as a child, Takoda.
Unless one has a wood stove, it's really not a cost-efficient method of producing syrup.

raine said...

Of course, we bought it.

Of course, lol.
Good for you!

ScaramoucheX said...

How about, 'the Golden Bough', Frazer's work on world mythologies and their confluences?
I love the imagery of the priest of the holy glade, who protects the tree with the golden bough, and rules there until he is slain by the next priest...
Sanctuary of Diana, I believe...

Bernita said...

Yes, indeed, Scaramouchex - why I mentioned it - the primal sacredness of groves.
G.G.Kay utilizes a variant blend of that yearly sacrifice in Tigana.
A subtle echo in many fairy tales too.