Friday, October 1, 2010

Festival of the Trees #52

Welcome to Festival of the Trees #52! This is the first time I have hosted FOTT, so I was very surprised by the number and range of posts that were submitted. I have to say, no other blog carnival I have participated in has come close! I received over 30 posts from around the world, ranging from poems, to photos, to videos, to prose, to naturalist observations. My own blog tends toward observations and the scientific side of nature, so I was glad to “branch out” into the more artistic side.

Maybe the large turnout was due to my picking an “open” theme. Or maybe the milder weather lately has encouraged us all to amble about and appreciate our arboreal amigos. Whatever the reason, I’m happy about it! I have tried to mix up the different types of posts here to keep you on your toes. Enjoy!

I will start with a poem, but for the benefit of the poetically impaired like myself, I will start with one that is presented in an easy-to-digest manner. Poet and jazz broadcaster Jason Crane, at his self-named blog JasonCrane, first brings us on a photo tour of the Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands, NY. Then he shares a video of poet Walt Franklin reading an excerpt of his poem “Red Oak”. Hearing the intonation intended by the author, along with his expressive hand motions, adds to our enjoyment of his work.

Over at the blog Rebecca in the Woods, Rebecca gives us some superb photos and descriptions of an ancient Live Oak on Jekyll Island, Georgia and the ecosystem it supports.

Corey Finger at 10,000 Birds describes the loss of the tree in front of his apartment building in Forest Hills, Queens (NY) during a recent violent storm. The weather that created this storm also passed through New Jersey where I live, so this story hit close to home. My sister and brother-in-law used to live in Forest Hills, so I know how precious the trees are there.

I love the name of Johnny Nutcase's blog - “Count Your Chicken! We’re Taking Over!”. Johnny sends along some gorgeous photos from the White Mountains of California. I especially love the gnarled Bristlecone Pines.

Ashley Peace at the appropriately named Treeblog treats us to a walk around Worsbrough Reservoir in England. He comes across some interesting trees, and even more interesting things growing on those trees. My favorite is the fungus that looks like a woolly egg.

Poet Dorothee Lang from Germany blogs at Virtual Notes. She offers her poem “Cutback/Backcut”, which like its title has both a left and a right side. Be sure to appreciate both sides!

Over at Nature's Whispers, Jasmine brings us on a tour of Lligwy Cromlech, Din Lligwy and Hen Capel Lligwy. These are three ancient sites in the Lligwy region of Wales, dating from the Neolithic, Roman Occupation, and Medieval periods respectively. She explains the fascinating history of these sites, and also identifies what may be an ancient Hawthorn tree at Hen Capel Lligwy. She provides interesting information from The Woodland Trust on how to estimate the age of trees by hugging them. Even if the hug doesn’t give you a definitive answer, at least you will feel more at peace!

Speaking of The Woodlands Trust, Jasmine also tells us about the Trust’s “Woods on Your Doorstep” campaign to plant trees across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Jasmine has applied for a pack of trees to create a community woodland in her hometown of Anglesey, Wales. We wish her luck! Jasmine then shows us a beautiful but damaged apple tree and wonders if there is anything she can do to help heal it. If you know, please pass along your thoughts.

Arati at the Trees, Plants & More blog brings us on a photographic tour of Cubbon Park in Bangalore, India. Of course I enjoyed the many photos of the trees in the park, but I really loved seeing the unique style of Indian architecture.

Carolyn Guinzio sent along a series of what I would call “phenological” photos of a group of trees. Phenology is the study of periodic life cycles in nature, such as the changing of leaves with the seasons. Carolyn reports that due to the dry, hot weather this year in Fayetteville, Arkansas, these trees have not yet shown their autumn colors. Carolyn does not have a blog, but why should that prevent us from enjoying her beautiful photos? I have copied them throughout this festival to give you some visual breaks, starting with winter. Hopefully Carolyn will start up a blog in time for us to see the fall foliage in Fayetteville!

Next we visit the blog Very Like a Whale, where Nic Sebastian presents her poem “The Forestry Student”. Our world-traveling student recalls the trees of home while learning about new ones in the high country of Colorado.

Over at the Marianv Blog, Marian Veverka relates a sad story of the effects of a dry year and an onslaught of McMansions on her local forest in Ohio.

One of the coordinators of Festival of the Trees, Dave Bonta, blogs at Via Negativa. First, Dave brings us on a hike along the Black Gum Trail in his home town of Plummer’s Hollow, PA. The photos are fantastic, and I definitely did not know that the leaves of Black Gum trees start turning a month or more before other trees. Then, find out in this funny story why Dave has put a fence around a dead tree in his yard.

At the e-zine Elimae, Eric Burke's poem “Redundant” has been published. See what you think is redundant about the forest scene Eric describes. (I had to check the dictionary for some different nuances of meaning for this word.) You may need more than a dictionary to appreciate the title of Eric’s other poem published in Elimae, “Zeno’s Paradox”. If you sold your philosophy textbook back to the bookstore, you can get a general idea of the paradoxes of Zeno of Elea by checking Wikipedia. That is what is wonderful about poetry - there is so much meaning packed into so few words.

Nancy Devine writes at her eponymous blog (you can look that one up while you have the dictionary out), where she gives us two photos and a beautiful description of the ornamental crab trees in her backyard in North Dakota.

How could we pass up a blog called Saving Our Trees? Here, Jacqueline Yetzotis brings us on a tour of St. Peters Cooks River Church in Sydney, Australia, with a focus on its trees. I found it fascinating that the pillars that support the vaulted ceiling of the church are made from several intact trunks of Ironbark trees. Jacqueline needs assistance identifying a tree on the grounds that is from South Africa, so drop her a line if you know.

Speaking of great names for blogs, how about Living ?s - A Dedicated Space for Curiosity. Since I blog at Kind of Curious, I can really appreciate that. At Living ?s, Karyn Eisler gives us a short video of the forest, bursting with bird song, outside her room in the Hungarian spa town of Hévíz.

Did I mention that I blog at Kind of Curious? Here you can see my series of photos of “nurse logs” in the Hoh Rain Forest of Olympic National Park in Washington state, showing the various stages of their “life after death“. While you are there (here?) why don't you check out some photos of Monterey Cypress trees at Pebble Beach, California, along with some interesting facts about their odd shapes and the famous Lone Cypress. And here I discuss how the exquisite sound of Stradivarius violins may be due to the climatic conditions present when the trees they were made from were growing.

Well, Spring has sprung in Fayetteville, so let's check out our trees:

Roberta Gibson at the Growing With Science Blog gives us a brief lesson on apples. Her blog is subtitled “Putting the Fun Back into Scientific Exploration”, and she does not disappoint. She even follows in David Letterman’s footsteps and tries the “Will it Float?“ game on some apples. If you have ever bobbed for apples you can probably guess that one correctly, but how about pumpkins? Click here to find out!

Next we visit poet Daniela Elza at her blog Strange Places. Daniela offers us her thoughts on trees, including her elegant poem “Inhabitions”.

Heidi Greco is Out on the Big Limb (that's the name of her blog), where she laments a tree downed by a storm in her neighborhood in British Columbia. Hmm ..... trees downed by storms in both New York and British Columbia? What’s going on here? I think Heidi is onto the theme, because then she describes trees downed by chain saws, just like those we read about in Ohio. This is getting scary. Heidi also sends along an interesting photo of a bird’s nest that fell from a tree, showing the range of “found” materials that birds utilize.

The provocatively named Sand_Shadow points us to PBase to enjoy his photo of a tree and a full moon, with an industrial element thrown in to keep us off balance. You’ll have to see it to understand what I mean.

Scott McCrae at Christian Naturalist offers a series of posts about Box Elder Maples, including some great close-ups that help with identifying these trees. If you know what causes the red staining of wood infected with heart rot, let us know by leaving a comment on Scott‘s blog.

Over at Musings From Aotearoa, Robb Kloss was inspired by an ancient tree next to a river in the Ruahine Range, in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The result is his elegant poem "Observation on the River".

Rebecca at A Year With the Trees has a great idea, of visiting a tree each day throughout 2010, once per season, to be inspired and write about it. On September 17th she visited the Chestnut Oak outside her window in North Carolina, along with the Wheel Bugs hunting on one of its twigs. Let’s hope Rebecca continues into A Second Year With the Trees!

Black Walnut trees are the focus at Anybody Seen My Focus?. JSK starts us thinking about the different ways that animals get through the hard outer shells of the walnuts. The last photo of a squirrel caught in the act is hilarious.

Meanwhile, back in Fayetteville, the heat has set in. The leaves are a noticeably darker shade of green, and the grass has dried up:

Well it's almost time to wrap up another Festival of the Trees. Before we go, please remember to send in your writing and photos for next month's festival. Our host will be Arati at Trees, Plants and More. Please email your links to Arati - ringsofsilver09 (at) gmail (dot) com. The theme is Open, and submissions are due October 29th (by midnight in your local time zone).

Thank you to everyone who participated in this Festival of the Trees, and a special thank you to those who read and viewed our work. I will end with this beautiful piece sent in by Jessica Swafford. Jessica does not have a blog, so I have copied the piece below:

I've always had a preoccupation with trees. I cannot name them, cannot distinguish one kind from another. I even dream of trees. I've never known why or how the fascination began.

Liking the trees so much always struck me as extremely funny because my maternal grandfather owned a sawmill for many years. I never knew my grandfather nor have I been close to anyone on my mother's side of the family.

What few stories I can get from my mother all have an element of the sawmill in them. Her favorite memory is her father coloring Easter eggs with the red and blue wax pencils normally used to mark lengths of board. A painful story I've never heard in its entirety is how one of her brothers was driving the log truck on a winding road where there was something ahead of him blocking the way. He slowed down but the car behind him did not. Four individuals were wounded and would die of their injuries. Her brother held a man in his arms until the man died.

My mother was very little then and remembers the utter shock of seeing her brother's white t-shirt and dress pants completely red with blood. She remembers the fear that she wouldn't see him again because he could have been sent away for 'killing' those people even though it was just a tragic accident.

I realized recently that I breathe like a tree. Taking in a deep, sound breath is the trunk and the roots. Breathing out is the leaves rustling in spring. Then it hit me. I AM the tree. I have always been the tree.

When my grandfather had the sawmill, everything was about the destruction of the tree. It was cut down, marked up. It's layers were ripped apart according to their potential function - bark to burn, hard center for flooring - to be stomped on, walked all over. When he lost the sawmill later in a bad investment deal, it was nothing, didn't even exist.

If I have been the tree the whole time, then all those things were done to me. I have been cut to my core, burned, divided, stomped. I have been non-existent at times.

My most important relationship is with my father. He never worked wood, was never employed at the mill, never knew my grandfather, never even whittled on the porch. His job has always been with tires, but the rubber does come from trees, doesn't it?

My father wants to get a tattoo now suddenly after only having a doodle from 40 years ago. He wants a cottonwood tree with a tire swing and one fairly large and significant branch broken and off to the side. The tree and its branches are suppose to be life itself and the important people. The tire is my dad. The broken branch is my dead brother.

I guess I'd have to be the rope. I'm holding on, grasping tightly. I'm not exactly a part of the whole, but I can climb my way up. I can find out how solid some of the limbs are and rip away some of the twigs that serve no purpose.

I will make my way back to being the tree.

I, however, will not be the one destined to be hard wood flooring or ash. I will be the willow that seems to mark time into eternity and memory. I will not be the Giving Tree that gives until there is nothing left. I will not become driftwood, either.

I will be the Redwood that refuses to come down, the one in souvenir pictures where a literal roadway has been cut through the tree. You can peek within, but you cannot destroy.

I am the tree house that brings childhood fantasy back to life. I am the cherry dresser admired and passed down generations. I am the wooden cross that marks the grave of your favorite dog. I am the pencil that links the heart's memory to the page. I am the page that holds the story. I am the pulp of all being.


  1. Thanks for including me, John. I figured Dave Bonta would be in this Festival, because he's the one who let me know about it, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Corey Finger, someone I haven't seen in a few years. Great work curating this edition, John.

    Jason Crane

  2. Kia ora John,
    Wow! Great effort. What a rich and varied offering to peruse from, and I look forward to checking all these wonderful places one by one. New branches to my tree. Ti hei mauri ora to all!

  3. What a lovely Festival you have put together. Jessica's piece is very moving. (I had enjoyed your post about nurse trees while assembling Circus of the Spineless :-))

    Thank you for hosting.

  4. Hi John - Thanks for all your work on this. I'm impressed by the number and variety of links this month!

  5. Thank you for putting together this wonderful festival. I've been slowly working my way down the list of links, enjoying each one. The creative writing at the end is very moving. I've started a short course through a local university (writing with intent) and the very first exercise asks us to write what we want to get out of the course, our strengths and our weaknesses. I have normally written as a legal advice worker, and said I wanted my writing to reflect my love of nature, to be more naturally focused with my obserbvations. Reading your friends 'Trees' feels so right, just how I'd like to write some day. Very powerful. I'd like to read more.

  6. An impressive festival this month. Thanks for the work of doing it. I am enjoying reading the different posts and learning of new tree blogs.

  7. great work, i look forward to reading through the links in the month to come. am pleasantly surprised as well to see the abundance of contributions!

  8. thanks for piecing this carneval of trees together. so fascinating - i am excited to be part of it. it's the first time i take part in a blog carousel, i really like the concept, it feels like a walk through a landscape that branches out in so many surprise directions.

  9. Thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the carnival!

  10. Thanks John - what a great collection of tree reflections. Just what I needed today!

  11. Oh, I missed the deadline! Ha! But I enjoyed all the contributions and will try to make up for the next!

    Blessed are the tree lovers. . .

  12. Thanks so much for this blog carnival John--wonderful to be included, and to take the blog tour of those featured! Also fun to have my 'Living ?s' blog featured post here on your blog called 'Kind of Curious' :-)

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  14. Trees are a blessing to our landscape and they must be celebrated for sure! This post is one great way of making people aware of the importance and other purposes of trees in the world. There should be more writers like you advocating trees and how they inspire us.

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