Scottish-born American naturalist John Muir (1838-1914) wrote passionately about the need to preserve the magnificent trees of the Yosemite Valley for future generations. He encouraged us “to love and live with trees, and to be free from schemes and care and time as [are] the trees themselves.” Julia Ellen Rogers, author of The Nature Series book “Trees” published in 1917, believed that “to know a tree’s name is the beginning of acquaintance—not an end in itself.” Thus, she encouraged her young readers to begin tree friendships.
My sycamore friendship began with one acquaintance and later branched into another. When Kit and I moved for a brief time to New Mexico in early 2005, we missed the rivers and green woodlands of Missouri. After moving back seven months later, we acquired a plein aire painting of a solitary sycamore in an open field. Local artist Sue Van Buren created the Van Gogh-like oil with a palette knife, laying down thick layers of brilliant color on her canvas. With its thin, irregular branches and flaking plates of bark that reveal its ghostly white under bark, the sycamore fairly shouted at us from the canvas. The image spoke to us as trees do, and “the beginning of acquaintance” took root.
~ Read more in today’s Journal ~