It’s what we have when we have nothing that defines our relation to nature and the effect of nature on the soul. Then we begin to realize that we do not exist outside of nature or above nature or independent of nature; we are simply its most vulnerable part. What we learn from nature may make the whole difference in the way we go through life, and what we want from it, and what we consider important in it, and—most of all—what we are capable of learning by being alive. —from Becoming Fully Human by Joan Chittister (Sheed & Ward)
(Click pics for full-screen views.) Views looking up under American Beech trees, abundant at Balsamea, fascinating in every season. See my post, The Junk Tree (Fagus grandifolia) for many more home-made pictures and discussion. Some foolish person called it a junk tree, not me. I’m not THAT foolish.
“What we learn from nature may make the whole difference in
… what we are capable of learning by being alive.” –JDC
After half a foot of sticky, soggy snowfall overnight, today the temperature at Balsamea rose well above freezing. Along our trails, rapidly thawing snow showered from the trees everywhere in these dense woods, especially from the pines and firs, those bearers of great snow-loads.
Click pix for full size images
It fell in droplets, spoonfuls, cupfuls, bucketfuls and barrowfuls. The still, windless air said nothing while each of these sizes played their particular sounds, all around me patting, drumming, shushing and thumping their way through tree limbs, branches, twigs and evergreen boughs, then concluding each phrase with a strike on the snow on the ground. They formed an unusual percussive symphony unique to this particular circumstance, in a special variation playing upon atypical conditions in the fresh snow cover.
When or where can you hear nature using trees and snow as instruments to drench the still air in sound this way, with a variety of visual effects, too? When do you get to sit in the middle of the orchestra as it plays? It filled the air within a great dome surrounding me, simultaneously at every volume possible to my ears. Some notes played a few feet from me, ranging out to ones played barely within hearing. Some struck funny notes on my ball cap and shoulders. Continue reading →
Trees get so much attention in this drifting journal, The Balsamean, because they are easier to write about than people are, and trees often make better friends than most people do, and the tree fairies would sprout leaves green with envy in the middle of winter if I gave as much time to humanity as to them.
This is another long post, about 3,000 words, but it has lots of pictures, one of my favorite poems (a famous classic), and a piece of original art by The Balsamean.
It took a year to write this. It’s not that I took a year to start it. I worked on it dozens of times beginning last September. The earlier versions were close to 6,000 words, and told too many stories that deserve articles of their own.
If not for too many long sentences, this would be an easy read. But my readers are sharp. And it’s especially readable if you just take a seat, slow down and act like the world moves at the speed it should, not the one it does.
Here are 50 of my favorite autumn color photos taken at Balsamea, at 500 pixels wide (or tall). If you’ve followed this blog a long time, you’ve seen these before. However, most of them managed to disappear from the blog, so, for the record, here they are again.
Click on a picture to open its own page where you can post comments on it.
OR, click any of the pictures in the series (after this first one) to switch to gallery/carousel mode where you can step through them like a slide show and comment right there on any picture. They look nicer there because they are not bunched up so tightly as seen here.
Or just say stuff in the comments box at the bottom of this post, if you ever get there. Or email me for all those delish things you always love saying to me privately.
Oaks against the sky, Ramparts of leaves high-hurled, Staunch to stand and defy All the winds of the world; Stalwart and proud and free, Firing the man in me To try and again to try – Oaks against the sky.
– Excerpt from Trees Against The Sky, Poem by Robert William Service
It’s not a good idea to fall in love with a guy whose favorite book is the dictionary. This thought occurred to me today when I perused my 1995 10th Edition of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which I would prefer over using the Internet to look up words, but my eyes can’t take it.
I felt something like comedic irony when I saw her inscription to me in this dictionary, my Good Book, a gift on the third anniversary of our first date.
That relationship brought me to the brink of swearing off women forever. After dalliances since then, I’m now so selective, it’s as good as having sworn off them. I won’t deny the possibility of someone coming along to inspire a romance that makes people dismissive of Tristan and Isolde, or that inspires me to write an eternally classic novel about civil war, bells tolling, and earth-moving sex. (Hemingway, you delightful madman.) Still, she won’t lure me away from Balsamea, or get me to abandon my little Defiant Oak tree.
Sentinel Oak with The Balsamean’s head in the lower branches to be removed soon. Remove the branches, not the head.
In 2005, the birth year of Balsamea, my father asked if there were any oak trees on the property. I had not seen them. Over time, I learned that there were many red oaks. They are one of our minority trees, but the mature ones number about one per acre, and there are dozens of seedlings and saplings. We would have many more oaks, were it not for the deer munching on their buds every winter. I have seen them kill a 3-foot healthy oak in two seasons.
On that day in May 2005 when I closed on the property purchase, I immediately installed a cable gate across the entrance. Dumpers had abused the property, a practice that ended that day, and became a considerable process of remediation for me. Still I find things resurfacing from below ground.
While opening space for access to the right trees to attach the cable, I noticed two little red oaks about two feet tall each. One was in excellent condition. The other was crushed under a fallen gray birch. I left the latter alone to grow in its own way, and it has done well. The former, I nursed and lightly pruned over the years, to encourage a nice geometric shape.