Friday, January 18, 2013

Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees

I came across this book in the library the other day and just seeing the gingko leaves on the cover had me hooked. And then when I started looking through it I was totally wowed by the beautiful photographs of the components of trees--the buds, flowers, fruit, leaves, bark, twigs, leaf scars. In the Introduction, we learn that the photographs were created with software developed for work with microscopes, "creating incredibly sharp  images by stitching together eight to forty-five images of each subject, each shot a a different point of focus." Not sure what that means, but the photographs are really amazing.

The photographs are cool enough, but there's lots of interesting information too. The author talks about the traits of trees and invites you to watch trees with the same care and sensitivity that you might watch birds. She gives you things to look for and strategies for watching trees: Pick one tree and follow it all year. Look down, not up--you'll find a lot of treasures in the detritus at the bottom of the tree. Find a good guide--a naturalist or an arborist can point out many interesting tree traits to you. Learn the names of trees. Draw and photograph trees. Keep a record of your observations. And don't make the mistake of viewing trees only from afar. Get close, right under it.

"The real tree, with its enormous trunk and impossibly weighty limbs, can be experienced and understood only by standing under it, with your feet firmly planted under its canopy.  Only then can you appreciate its massive bulk, its presence, and its ineffable relationship to you---small, short-lived life form that you are."

The author writes in depth about ten species of trees--American Beech, American Sycamore, Black Walnut, Eastern Red Cedar, Ginkgo, Red Maple, Southern Magnolia, Tulip Poplar, White Oak, and White Pine-- focusing on the life cycle of the trees throughout the year. She shows you how to recognize these trees and understand their most interesting features. As one reviewer said, "this is a book to turn us all into unabashed tree worshipers."

Reading this beautiful book only reinforced my desire to keep better records of the trees in my yard. I usually keep track of when certain trees bloom, or leaf out, but I will be paying more attention to some of the other characteristics of my trees throughout the year. I will become a tree worshipper.

Red Maple leaves

No comments:

Post a Comment