Thursday, August 30

Trees in Art

All artwork above © by Laura

Laura Medei has developed a whimsical, dreamlike style with her paintings and sketches of trees (above) and her artwork never fails to delight and inspire me when I visit her Flickr album of sketches. If you enjoy her uplifting style as much as I do, why not check out the rest of her beautiful art?


I recently found the book, The Night Life of Trees, on our public library shelf. Wow! Exquisite! Myth and poetry, vision and artistry combine to illustrate the deep connections many indigenous peoples have to all of Creation. These vivid tree portraits were created by Bhajju Shyam, Durga Bai and Ram Singh Urveti. Each volume is hand-screen printed and hand bound by Tara Publishing.
The book is filled with intricately drawn visions of trees ... from the Gond tribe in central India, (who believe) trees stand in the middle of life and the spirit of many things lie in them. Trees are busy all day giving shade, shelter and food. Under the night skies, spirits of the trees are revealed. The Night Life of Trees is a tribute to the majesty of trees, and to old ways of relating to the natural world.
  1. the first tree made by the Creator
  2. the Peepul tree is so perfect that seen against the sky, it has the same shape as its own leaf
  3. the Earth is held in the coils of the snake goddess. The roots of trees coil around the earth too, holding it in place

Ruby-Scented Dawn, by Catherine Hyde, an artist from UK. Hyde makes exceedingly beautiful christmas cards as well. Some of her tree images remind me vaguely of dreams, of Matisse, of childhood paintings made by smearing blackberry and chokecherry juice on concrete sidewalks ...

Robert Ryan, a paper-cut artist and illustrator, often depicts trees in his incredibly intricate paper-cuts and screen prints. Click here to see his papercut galleries or click on the images, left, for enlarged views. Below is a collaged photo of Robert's studio, originally posted on his blog, titled (ummm...) Robert Ryan.

Another artist working in the paper-cut medium is Peter Callesen, who lives in Denmark. Though his medium is similar to that of Robert Ryan, Callesen's papercuts (left) are relatively simpler, though still incredibly elegant, and he often focuses on fairytales and constructs room-sized cut-paper installations as well. His website has so many beautiful pieces it was hard to choose just one to showcase here.

Wednesday, August 29

Trees in Poetry & Prose

photo by Maureen Shaughnessy ©

Native Trees

Neither my father nor my mother knew
the names of the trees
where I was born
what is that
I asked and my
father and mother did not
hear they did not look where I pointed
surfaces of furniture held
the attention of their fingers
and across the room they could watch
walls they had forgotten
where there were no questions
no voices and no shade

Were there trees
where they were children
where I had not been
I asked
were there trees in those places
where my father and mother were born
and in that time did
my father and mother see them
and when they said yes it meant
they did not remember
What were they I asked what were they
but both my father and my mother
said they never knew

-W.S. Merwin©


Tree, gather up my thoughts
like the clouds in your branches.
Draw up my soul
like the waters in your root.

In the arteries of your trunk
bring me together.
Through your leaves
breathe out the sky.
- J. Daniel Beaudry ©
published in Nature in Legend and Story

Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, That we may record our emptiness.
-Kahlil Gibran, from Sand and Foam

Under the Walnut Tree

When I face what has left my life,
I bow. I walk outside into the cold,
rain nesting in my hair.
All the houses near me
have their lights on. Somewhere,
there is a deep listening.
I stand in the dark for a long time
under the walnut tree, unable
to tell anyone, not even the night,
what I know. I feel the darkness
rush towards me, and I open my arms

– Lynn Martin © From Blue Bowl (Blue Begonia Press)

Alone with myself
The trees bend
to carress me
The shade hugs
my heart.
- by Candy Polgar ©

I part the out thrusting branches
and come in beneath
the blessed and the blessing trees.
Though I am silent
there is singing around me.
Though I am dark
there is vision around me.
Though I am heavy
there is flight around me.

- Wendell Berry © from Collected Poems
(North Point Press)

photo by Ric McArthur ©

Fern-Leafed Beech

This tree listened
when my husband died.
I leaned my head
against its trunk
and cried.
No words passed,
but I took its strength
and knew
that life at last
secretly transforms
until what is seen
becomes unseen,
and what has been
is still to be.

-Moyra Caldecott©

a few other links:
Solitary Trees
find other poets' work at
Trees in Myth and Legend
Spirit of Trees

Thursday, August 2

Top 4 US Fires in Montana

The wildfire burning just 10 miles from Helena, Montana blew up from 20,000+ acres on Tuesday to 31,000 acres by Wednesday. The fires in Montana and other states around the west are getting national coverage, though in my opinion, not enough is being said about how wildfire is an important part of the natural cycle and the fact that some of these fires are being "allowed" to burn is a perfectly reasonable way to manage the fires. If the fires were put out now, the threatened areas would eventually burn anyway -- and often will burn even more drastically becasue of the natural buildup of fuels.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday:

Firefighting crews in Montana battled the four top priority wildfires in the West on Wednesday, blazes that have led to the evacuation of hundreds of people.

In a normal year, Wednesday would have been the beginning of the summer fire season in Montana, but drought has put most of the state two to three weeks ahead of schedule and more hot, dry weather is forecast.

It's going to be a long season,'' said Warren Bielenberg, fire information officer for the Lewis and Clark National Forest in northwest Montana.

The No. 1 priority for firefighters Wednesday in the West was a blaze in the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness north of Helena that had blackened 31,238 acres, or about 49 square miles. Residents of 60 homes southeast of Wolf Creek were evacuated Tuesday, adding to residents of at least 60 other homes that were evacuated earlier.

The fire was moving north toward Holter Lake, a popular recreation area, and through a wildlife management area. It was about 25 percent contained but was expanding Wednesday toward evacuated areas to the southeast, where hand crews, aircraft and bulldozers worked to build lines and keep it in the wilderness ..."

To all who have written in concern for our safety in Helena, I just want to reassure you that we are fine -- the fire is 10 miles from the city and so far no one's home has burned. The firefighters are doing an outstanding job of protecting people's homes and animals. Still, your prayers are appreciated, here and all over the west where drought is making the 2007 fire season so much worse. Thank you! -- Maureen