Thursday, June 24, 2010

Going crazy for the Festival of the Trees

I confess. I'm a wanton lover of trees. So when Yvonne Osborne asked for participants for the Festival of the Trees I waved my hand madly, but I realized I could never pick a favorite tree. I find something wondrous and fascinating about them all.
I sifted through my pictures of trees--ones that made me stop to capture their images, and I share these with no mention of favorites. I'm tossing in a few haiku and a flash fiction, too.
The desert palo verde does an amazing transformation. While its name springs from the unreal green shade of its bark, the annual profusion of sunny blossoms turn its normally stark, stick-like appearance into a fairy bower. I mean, really. Can't you see the fairies?
Walking in a botanic garden, I picked up a sap-green leaf that was wider than my head. Since the tree, whose name I no longer recall, had released the leaf, I took it home.
It lived with me for years, curling so slightly inward from its edges, turning a rich golden brown. It reminds me of the work leaves do to convert sunlight into nourishment and carry it to the tree.
And in that process, they release oxygen to our world. Leaves carry life itself.
a weathered oak
by the dead stream, standing firm
through the dry season

Trees also provide homes to countless creatures--birds, rodents and mammals.
But I was stopped in my tracks on a foggy walk through a park by this gigantic spiderweb.
While it can freak you out to suddenly be whacked in the face with a web, there is no denying the awesome design, industriousness and fragile strength of this creation.
lichen-bright trunks
light the way through damp woods,
the path is swallowed

Some people love palms and some hate them. I'm not sure why that is. They can be stately like these queen palms or give sustenance like date palms.
in whipping wind
a palm frond squawk-squawks,
new kind of crow
And now for a flash fiction in honor of the festival. The story grew out of my fascination with Montezuma cypress trees, which can live thousands of years. One in Oaxaca, Mexico is almost 38 feet in diameter. And there are creation myths surrounding the trees, but this story is purely my imagination.
Bored with listening to sap flow, Zapo exclaimed, "Is this all there is? Standing still for centuries? Nothing more?"
Zapo was young as Montezuma cypress go, but he'd still lost count of how many fishermen he'd watched cast lines in this lake or how many children tossed crumbs at ducks. His roots had long ago stretched so far around his base they looked like a nest of pythons. His crown was haven to weighty herons and bratty crows. In short, he was cranky with being a monument.

Zapo's fingers levered open a crack in his thick bark, and he gloried in the fresh air. He stared wistfully at a leaf drifting by and the clouds reflected in the lake's surface. He reached out a gnarled foot, his long toes dipping in the cool liquid.
He could be a boy and run free. Why not? But his feet shook the ground like thunder. When he turned his head, wind whirled and birds scattered. He looked down and saw people falling to their knees before him.
"Well, shoots and saplings," he muttered. "So much for blending in."
Sorry if the formatting is weird on this. Blogger kept arguing with me on the placement of photos and text.
There still is time to put up a tree post before June 28 and send the link to Yvonne. On July 1 all the fest links are posted so you can blog hop.
I may even post a Part II with a different flash fiction about the monkey-puzzle tree since my photo of it in the previous post was such a hit. Got trees on my mind, and that's not a bad thing.

(Postscript added after a trip to the botanic garden where the huge dry leaf was found. It's from a Chinese parasol tree, whose leaves are as big and lovely green as I remember.)


Char said...

i love trees too - beautiful stories and haikus. what is the name of the first tree?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Char: Thank you so much. It is called Palo Verde.

Jade L Blackwater said...

YES! Beautiful post Tricia! I'm like you... I can't pick a favorite for the life of me. So glad you shared.


Jade L Blackwater said...

PS - I love your story!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi and welcome, Jade! Thank you so much. It was truly a pleasure.

Nicole said...

I love trees too! Had a laugh yesterday, I went to a bookstore and had a look at a book. After reading the first paragraph i thought 'hold on, this is written by a kiwi!' checked and sure enough the author is a NZer and even lives in Wellington. And I got all that from the one paragraph where she described the forest around her ;p

Donna said...

Love the palo verde, although the jacaranda have gorgeous shadows of purple blossoms right now.

Your leaf might be sycamore, since I have a similar one in a vase behind me from our tree.

Lydia Kang said...

These pictures took me to a different place and time for a little while. And I love haiku. I love that concentrated burst of sensation and feeling in just a few powerful words.

I gave you a blog award over at my blog, btw!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Nicole: That's a wonderful story and shows how well you know your forest (and how well the author described it).

Donna: Thanks, could be sycamore. Mostly I was impressed by it's sheer size--a real platter of a leaf.

Lydia: Thank you so much. I love finding others who understand the power of haiku. I can read the haiku of Basho and Issa over and over.
I'll be over to check your blog.:)

Yvonne Osborne said...

I'm so glad you included that picture with the spider web and I knew I could count on you for a haiku. Super contribution, Tricia.

Yvonne Osborne said...

p.s. I would LOVE it if you posted a part II with a F.F. on your monkey-puzzle tree.

Unknown said...

Beautiful! I found a leaf in my garden a few weeks ago that's shaped like a heart. Not torn or anything, just naturally shaped in a perfect heart. Its hanging on my fridge. :)

Anonymous said...

These pictures are breathtaking. I love the large spiderweb. I've never stumbled on one so large. I also like your haiku and story.

Catherine Denton said...

You really capture the beauty of the trees. The writing and the photos are wonderful!
Winged Writer

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yvonne: Thanks. I can't wait to see what you post!

Karen: It sounds like that leaf was meant for you to find. I love little signs from the universe (at least that's how I see them).

Medeia: Welcome. I'm so glad you came by and thank you so much for that comment. I'm glad you enjoyed. I can tell you I was glad I saw that web before walking into it!

Catherine: Oh, thank you. I always feel a certain obligation and respect where nature are concerned.

Paul C said...

What a beautiful diversity of trees, their imagery and stories. Delightful post.

Unknown said...

Though I'm not a fan of bugs I love trees, and all kinds. Everyone represents a different idea I have, I love hedges too, something so secretive about what lies behing them... then again that is my imagination running away with me.

Loved this post!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Thank you much, Paul!

Jen: ooooo, yes. I was so enchanted by a mansion hidden by dense thickets of trees and foliage for years. I always tried to peek through and then one day they tore all the plants down, revealing a beautiful Tudor now in a sterile, clean garden. Boo. The mystery, the mystique is gone.

Sarah Laurence said...

I love that second image – the oak leaf is like a dancer. I enjoyed your haikus too. I use the Simple stretch template so that my large photos always fit and the the viewer can adjust the display size of the blog window.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Great post! That spiderweb is amazing. So big and sturdy.

And I love your palm haiku. Palm fronds do squawk squawk. I sit on my deck and listen to them all the time. You captured that brilliantly.

Unknown said...

Love the trees and the flash fiction.

Yeah, Blogger can sometimes have a mind of it's own. :(

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sarah: How funny you mention the leaf is like a dancer. I wrote another haiku once where the leaves were children dancing. I love that you saw that.
thanks for the tip on stretch template. I just switched to this one but have been wanting to play around more, not fully satisfied.

Suzanne: Thank you, and I'm all smiles to know you've heard the crow-palms, too!

Stina: thanks so much!
(dang blogger)

VR Barkowski said...

Simply stunning, Tricia. The photographs are extraordinary and the, haiku as always, is magical.

Webs fascinate me. When I lived in Washington State the spiders would work through the night and webs this size would close off the stairs from our back deck and link the towering fir trees in the backyard. We had to knock them down each day to move about the property. It was both amazing and horrifying. I could never understand how they could accomplish so much in so little time.

Please do part II with the ff about the monkey puzzle tree! Thank you again for calling my attention to the Festival of the Trees.

Marcia said...

Have you read The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z? I just finished it, and it's a lot about trees!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

VR: Thank you, friend, for those words.
I would feel amazed and horrified to have such enormous webs every morning, too! I love to look at them but hate to walk into them. eek

Marcia: I don't read much MG, but that book sounds wonderful. I'll have to check it out.

lisa and laura said...

Your photographs are gorgeous as always, Tricia! The picture of the leaf looks like a work of art. I always feel so zen after reading your blog!

Elizabeth McKenzie said...

My favorite was the spider web. Though I'd hate to get entangled in it, I would not be as affected as, say a fly.

You write beautifully.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

LiLa: I love being the bearer of zen feelings. Thank you! :D

Elizabeth: Isn't it an amazing web? Thank you!

Jackee said...

You are so good at photography! Thanks for sharing these lovely ones. I love them all.

When I go south to Phoenix, one of the only things I look forward to visiting are the palo verdes, the octillos, and the suguaros. The three beauties most foreign to me.


Elizabeth said...

I agree on how hard it is to pick a favorite tree. Mine change depending on where I am at an particular moment, what's in leaving out, blooming, hosting bird nests, turning color in fall. I enjoyed your diverse picks and the lovely haiku and photos. Thanks.

Ed Pilolla said...

trunks light the way through damp woods.
there's so much to like, and love here. i found myself gazing at the photos, and returning to the haikus. gorgeous imagery. the giant leaf won't leave my memory for a while.
great to meecha:) great to be a part of the festival of trees.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jackee: Thanks! I'm crazy for ocotillo, too. The red is so vivid, especially in what is usually a sandy background.

Hello and welcome, Elizabeth. Thank you so much. When I was a child I loved to seach for the bird's nest and peek inside.

Ed: Wow, thank you for the kind words. I have enjoyed meeting you and your words, as well.