Sunday, January 4, 2009


Trees amaze and inspire me regularly. I have spoken to trees, and deliberately spent time with particular trees. I've grieved and wept over the loss of certain trees. I'm deeply moved by their silhouettes. I'm excited by their movements in the wind.

The picture above is of the dominant tree on our lot; it's behind our house and more than twice as tall. We told the construction people that if they damaged that tree we would not close on the house. They spray painted neon orange all over the multiple trunks and erected police tape around it - something we never saw them do on any other lot.

And here, from yesterday's walk in Duke Gardens, is the base of a cypress that has a whole collection of what many people call "cypress knees."


L'Adelaide said...

I'm thrilled you saved your tree(s) but don't know what the knees are...they look dead, are they baby cypress, tell me they are! I am hoping they are not chopped off ones!

when we built this house, we saved every oak, not an easy feat with so many right next to the house but we did and why not? they've been here a lot longer than we have and they are lovely, I think they talk to me too, like you and your trees...what is it about trees, they stand there and observe, seeing all? I don't know but I love them...

Steve Emery said...

Linda - Yes - it's a bald cypress, and those are all living extensions of the roots.

I'm glad you were able to save all the oaks. I'm always mindful that big trees have a presence a younger tree can't create, and which takes over a century to build. As you said, they've been there a lot longer than we have, and I do think they do something like observe. They breathe and live a place for so long, it becomes part of them, and, of course, they become a big part of a place, as well.

Unknown said...

Oh, I love the knees! They're like small natural sculptures! I've never seen anything like that before!

Unknown said...

P.S. Where has Grenouille been lately?

Vikki North said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vikki North said...

I just discovered something! I can delete a comment after I posted it and start over. Then you wont know what a horrendously bad speller I am!

Hopefully 'more better' now:

Wow! These are amazing images. The lower cypress picture almost looks
'other worldly'. I've never seen anything like that. Very cool

I think we need some Steve artwork inspired by these talking trees.

Life As I Know It Now said...

My hubby loves trees too. He calls himself a pagan because he worships trees. He has drawn a lot of ink trees in his day. He also loves the book "The Man Whom the Trees Loved". One of his all time favorites.

June Saville said...

Hi Steve
For years I lived next door to a giant fig in a park. My tree spread its branches across an area as large as two large suburban lots. Its roots meandered across the space to my garden where it clogged up my sewage pipe.
But no ill feelings.

I loved that tree and I believe it loved me.
Occasionally I'd walk across and lay my head against the hard bark to feel its life within, and return to do the washing up - refreshed.

Steve I wandered over to you from Vikki of RedChair. I'm from Journeys in Creative Writing, the home of Pip, star of Vikki's portrait.Your comment captured my character extremely well.

She's from the pages of my Australian mystery novel, now serialised on my blog. Vikki has followed her adventures and it was such a delight when, brilliant artist as she is, RedChair helped Pip come to life so accurately!
June in Oz

Steve Emery said...

Pagan - These are definitely not New England trees. But they're not so strange for here in the South - especially if you travel in LA or MS. And Grenouille had an Appendix on a post a few days ago... He has been quiet since his seven posts at Christmas.

Vikki - Thanks! Trees are huge in my art world, and show up a lot in my paintings, like the recent Woodpecker and Ursas paintings... I'm planning another one that will show up on paper soon.

Liberality - I feel suddenly closer to your husband. And I have to look into that book!

June in Oz - I am delighted you came to visit me. I will have to find time to look at the chapters you have posted so far. I want to see the words that go with the image. And thank you so much for sharing the story of that fig tree. I can completely understand that. When I was a teenager there was a several mile trek I took nearly every day after school to visit a series of trees in sequence. I even drew a map of the woods with those trees marked. The landlocked sycamores, the roll-out pine, the birch mother, the hemlock grove. They're part of me.

The Cunning Runt said...

Both of these photo have great character - I love them!

June Saville said...

There's been a twist on the Pip portrait Steve. There's more fun about it on Journeys in Creative Writing ...
June in Oz

lisahgolden said...

You know I have a favorite tree that I photograph over and over. There's just something about its shape against the sky. It stands alone in a field, but it doesn't seem lonely, it seems regal somehow.

Your trees are beautiful. Did I miss it? Are the trees on your property, the tall ones, are they birches?

Steve Emery said...

Cunning Runt - Thanks!

June in Oz - I must come look!

Lisa - I know the tree you mean, I've seen several of your photos of it. I totally understand and that is exactly the kind of thing I mean. And yes, the tall trees are on our property - they dominate the back yard and look over the top of our house, which you see all the way down the cul-de-sac. It's all one tree (multi-trunked) and it's the South's tallest variety, a Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). The bald cypress is at Duke Gardens - about 20 minutes from us.

Anonymous said...

I was going to comment on not having time to blog (me either) and then saw the lovely dewed photos and was going to comment there but then I saw your love for trees and had to comment here since I am a certified tree hugger and I, too, talk to them. I have a big old tulip poplar and several very large oaks (among smaller ones) in my yard. These are my companion trees. Oh, and the tree with the golden leaves in the middle of winter (birch? I keep forgetting what it is but I have a fire circle by it...I think the faeries come and dance there some times so I've hung mardi gras beads in the branches for them).

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I know what it is, it's magic. MAGICAL are what your paintings are.

I like the vertical and horizontal panos of trees here.