Category Archives: Education
The American elm which symbolises survival
The recent devastating tornado which tore through central Oklahoma prompted a meditation on the symbolism of Oklahoma’s Survivor Tree, written by Melinda Householder on the Loose Leaf Blog:
As the search continues for those who are missing, I’ve found myself reflecting on the city, the loss and the challenges that are being endured. And, I am reminded of The Survivor Tree.
This 80-year-old American elm witnessed one of the worst terrorist attacks in our country. Prior to the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, this lone elm stood in the middle of a parking lot, surrounded by concrete and cars, outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. While some folks enjoyed parking under the limited shade of its limbs, others thought it was an eyesore. Not much went into caring for this tree — until it was the only thing left standing.
The New Sylva
Authors Gabriel Hemery and Sarah Simblet have a blog following the progress of their work in progress, The New Sylva. This aims to be an updated version of John Evelyn‘s famous work seventeenth century survey of British trees Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber :
Three hundred and fifty years after Evelyn first published his tour de force, we again realise that there is an important if not unprecedented role for trees, forests and timber in our lives, and with this, an imperative need to refresh our view. As society continues to experience increasing environmental change, trees will become more valued and needed, not only as beautiful plants shaping our landscapes and city parks, affirming our sense of place and heritage, but also as our most green renewable resource, and one of our most important environmental protectors. Trees provide carbon-lean products for construction, heat and energy, while at the same time they can control flooding, soil erosion, and reduce the destructive power of winds. Woodlands help to maintain the quality of our drinking water, provide habitat for wildlife, and play a crucial role in helping biodiversity adapt to climate change.
The New Sylva will bring the essence of John Evelyn’s most celebrated work to a new readership. It will integrate sensitively parts of his original, visionary and very beautiful prose, with a much-needed contemporary review. It will deliver authoritative scholarship in a style that is brief, clear, accessible, and pleasurable to read, and for the very first time, it will be copiously illustrated. The New Sylva will celebrate mankind’s relationship with trees through a creative integration of history, science and art.
One of their blog’s recent posts shows a time lapse film of one of the illustrations in progress – six hours of work reduced to two concentrated minutes!
A tree called Zoom
I don’t know the story of how this tree acquired the name “Zoom.” It had been named before my children were enrolled. Zoom is a large, multi-trunk western red-cedar, Thuja plicata, located outside the Children’s Museum. It is perfect for climbing. My son fully explored the spreading lower limbs from the age of 3 onward. Older children climb to the very top.
Climbing trees aren’t hard to find, but this tree offers more than that. The lowest hanging foliage makes a curtain and ducking underneath one enters a new place — the shade is cooling, sounds are filtered out, outside views are screened — you’re not standing at the base of Zoom, you are within Zoom.
How to study trees right
Without necessarily casting any aspersions on forestry schools and the way they inculcate knowledge of trees and forests, I’d like to suggest that the way Rebecca has been doing it, as shared at her blog A Year With the Trees for the past two years, might be the best way to really understand our arborescent neighbors.
The 93 trees of “A Year With the Trees” have become a big part of my life. For the past two years, I sought each one of these trees, found them and sat with them. I have looked into their branches, looked closely at the veins in the leaves, at the branching, at the bark, at the land each of these trees lives in, and at the birds that live in the branches. I watched the bared branches of winter sprout new green growth in the spring. I watched the fullness of summer life that lives in the trees, and watched how summer turned into fall with the changing color. I watched as the gold, brown, red and yellow leaves fell to the ground. I have seen the branches laid bare once again awaiting new growth in the spring.
What’s next in 2012 for Rebecca’s apparently unending “year”? Click through to find out.