Posts Tagged ‘Trees’

Snow Day    (No Comments »)

Monday, March 12th, 2012

While it was snowing in Seattle in January of 2012, two friends of mine and I explored Volunteer Park. It was the first time I had ever seen a snowfall in a natural setting, and watching it drift in in waves as the sky grew dimmer was nothing short of enchanting. We ran across flat surfaces that had once been full of tiny mounds and depressions, threw snowballs and shook the powder off of thin tree-branches, raining cold dust upon unsuspecting walkers below. All the while, the leaves, the rocks, the very ground sparkled with otherworldly scintillation, as the sleeping Earth rested under our feet. As night fell, the glimmer of moonlight upon the fallen snow transfigured the land, bequeathing us a new realm full of magic and mischief. As we eventually left the park, I could not help but notice that every surface I saw was just as stunningly beautiful as the natural splendor we had just left. Under inches of snow, who can discern grass from concrete or asphalt? That night, nature laid its white carpet all the way to our door, and as I warmed up with a hot toddy I gave thanks to the great forces around and above that we might be so blessed– not only to have experienced this frigid bounty, but to have a respite from it as well.

(A note: The enclosed photo was taken not at the park, but about a mile away at the waterfront. It was remarkably hard to get a clear photo from a cellular phone camera in a snow flurry, so I chose the clearest and most striking from my album, rather than the most area-specific.)

Backyard Nature    (No Comments »)

Monday, November 29th, 2010

By Mark

When I was a toddler in 1950 my parents moved from a cramped New Jersey apartment to a new suburb on Long Island, NY. The house was on the site of a farm and had a large (from my perspective) apple and a maple tree right behind the house. One day when I was in the range of 4-6 years old, my mother was walking with me in the backyard and pointed at a nest high in the apple tree. Suddenly an American Robin flew out. It was almost as if her parental power had summoned the bird forth. For the rest of my childhood, I was fascinated with those trees and the birds and insects in them.
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That is my earliest nature story

Here are a few more interactions at those trees:

As a slightly older child I kept notes from hours of watching from my upstairs bedroom window as a Robin tended a different nest in the backyard maple.  One day I watched a Blue Jay hop around very close to the nest, looking for something. Fortunately for the Robin, the Jay did not find the nest. 

Below the apple tree were a vegetable garden on one side and a flower garden on a the other. My siblings and I collected insects from the gardens and trees. Some insects were mounted with pins, but we kept live crickets. We tried to keep praying mantises but did not realize that they would cannibalize each other if kept in the same shoe box. 

In the late 1950′s I became a Boy Scout. Insect Study Merit Badge had a requirement that in its current version states: “Observe 20 different live species of insects in their habitat.” (http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Insect_Study ). I sat on a lawn chair next to the flower garden and started to take notes. Within a short while I had counted 20 species. But I thought I would just stay there to see how long it would take before I would find yet another species new for the day. As the morning went on there was a ‘new’ species every 5-10 minutes. After a couple of hours, I stopped observing the flower patch and left amazed and heartened at the variety of fellow life forms that inhabited our family’s little backyard.

One early September day, a dramatic cold snap knocked a cicada out of a tree. I thought the dead cicada would be great for my insect collection, so I put it inside my uniform shirt and trotted down the street to school.  At lunch time I was in the back of a class room during  choir practice when the cicada started to buzz. I pulled it out of my shirt and held it in front of me while I tried to figure out what to do. Some girls started to scream.  The nun assumed I was intentionally disrupting the proceedings and gave my knuckles a good rapping with the standard ruler.

Concert of the Trees    (No Comments »)

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

by Regina Burchett

As I walk into the woods,
the concert has already begun -
the wind lifts its baton
to conduct the dance of leaves

I sense the movement,
the sway and sigh,
as the fingertips of the trees
stretch to sing of life

The sun separates from air
to become small circles of light
flashing down between the leaves -
sparkling chimes of green and white

Mottled shapes from sun and shade
continue a dance along the floor
of this living space
that has welcomed me

The soothing sounds around me
dampen thoughts of human matters,
lending me peace, renewing my soul

A Great Tree Friend    (1 Comment »)

Friday, June 25th, 2010

by Julia Helen Tracy

In my neighborhood there is an old (90ish years) Thuja plicata (western red cedar) tree.  For quite some months I was involved in a group trying to save this magnificent tree from development, but sadly, it is likely to be cut down in the next few years – we lost our appeal to the City of Seattle.  During the course of our appeal process I wrote the following poem, which was presented as my testimony at a community meeting:

Thuja plicata aka Big Red

Arboreal neighbor
standing 100 feet tall,
a beacon of beauty and hope
in an ever-growing urban neighborhood;
your scent speaks of
ancient forests
and reminds us to
count your great and glorious blessings:
snug shelter to innumerable critters
(both crawling and flying),
vast air filter,
robust stormwater catchment,
soaring shade provider,
world-class windbreak…

Yet all these ecosystem services
say nothing of
the deep green respite
you bring to our eyes,
or how you feed the souls
of your hungry neighbors.

Knowingly or unknowingly,
some of us glad, others angry -
we are all made richer by your presence.
April 2009

Tree-climbing! In the name of science!    (No Comments »)

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Tiny bits of bark crumble under hand. Muscles tense with each effortful movement in the body’s ascent of a tree, hands grip around branches, limbs stretch, feet secure to gnarls, knots, or bark holes.  Conquering, and clinging, when climbing a tree.  Perhaps a squirrel scurries away at the sight of the human visitor. Or an abandoned nest is discovered nestled in a nook.  Gradually the world below seems to shrink.  The vastness of the sky is revealed when the canopy breaks, offering the seeker a moment of humility.  At the top, a bird’s eye view.  Feet planted solid in the crevice between trunk and limb and back bent along the bend of yet another tree limb offers body’s rest.  Clouds float by; their shapes emerge in the form of artifacts or animals.