Tag: trees

trees

Survival Tips: Joy

I’ve spent much of the last twelve months trying to survive. First it was a cancer diagnosis, then it was a fairly harrowing course of chemo. Now the pandemic. In the midst of all this, I managed to finish a novel, chair an important committee for the Mystery Writers of America, and keep teaching classes at Gotham Writers. Sometimes I find myself quivering with anxiety, but for the most part I’d say I’ve survived. So far. People are always asking me how I did it, and I wonder about that myself, though, as you can see from the large picture below, trees are part of the answer. My mother, who had a difficult life, used to tell me, when I asked her for survival tips, that she coped because she had no choice. You either coped or you died. (You can only imagine how cheerful our dinner conversations were.) But she was actually a very cheerful person and she took a lot of pleasure in small things. Every week we would go to Nathan’s and get one of those huge sodden baskets of French fries and a hot dog covered in relish in sauerkraut. So my survival tip number one […]

Read More

Passion

Every morning I go out for a walk in the woods with my dogs. A couple of months ago, I began taking pictures of some of the things I saw in the woods and posting them on Facebook. One a day. I must have posted 20 pictures of fungi. But mainly I post pictures of trees. I had no particular reason for doing this, beyond the fact that I truly love looking at trees. What has surprised me though is how many people have responded to this passion of mine.    People I barely know will come up to me and say, “Oh I saw that tree picture of yours.” Strangers (and friends) send me pictures of trees, or poems about trees, or books about trees.  What has surprised me is that this passion of mine has found a home with so many other people. Turns out a lot of people love trees, but it’s something I wouldn’t have discovered if not exploring my own passion This is something I think about with writing. I do believe that when you put something you care about on the page, people respond to it. That’s what I want, anyway. To write something that connects with other people. How about you? What’s your passion?  

Read More

Oh Christmas Tree?

 A photo of FLOTUS’s White House Christmas decorations—a phalanx of up-lit, bare-branched white trees lining a black-tiled corridor illuminated only by a few pendant lamps and the lights on an equally dark Christmas tree at the corridor’s far end—generated lots of reaction on social media. Responses pretty much evenly split between “love it” and “hate it” (although I know of one person who said, “at least it’s different”). Many assumed that politics informed the reactions because, hey, everything is about politics these days. Right? Wrong, in my case. I voted “hate it” not because of political affiliation but because of—scary trees. I don’t think hip or trendy when I look at the photo of stark branches emitting an icy vibe. I think, “When are the flying monkeys going to attack?” “Where’s the Snow Queen hiding?” Jack Frost? The Abominable Snowman? Snow White’s wicked stepmother? The cast of an M. Night Shyamalan movie? Notice a theme? Forests, the woods, places filled with scary trees are places where evil lurks and bad things happen. They are not locations of holiday merriment. “Little Red Riding Hood”. The Princess Bride. “Hansel and Gretel”. The Blair Witch Project. The Cabin in the Woods. Deliverance. Do any of those stories stir the holiday spirit? Every time I pass a woods, I think of the news reports and true crime shows and episodes of “Law and Order” where a body was found in the woods by a hiker, hunter, dog walker, or Boy Scout. Don’t go in the woods. Add chilling darkness to the scary trees—as in the White House photo—and I cringe. When people talk about winter wonderlands I think “wonder” in the sense of “I wonder what I’m doing out here and I wonder where the nearest fireplace is”. I don’t do cold and dark. I can handle them each individually—cold or dark. Combined? No thanks. I moved from Alaska clear down to Texas to get away from a cold darkness that seemed to last forever. The dark is the worst. When it’s just cold, I can bundle up in stylish sweaters and fashionable coats, throw on a rakish scarf for some flair, and head outside to enjoy the bright winter sun. I’m a creature of light. I keep a light on the porch and a sting of fairy lights in my bedroom illuminated all night, to heck with the electric bill.  I’d make the world’s worst vampire. While some people bemoan it as a sign of light pollution, I think the sight of cities lit up as you fly over them on the red-eye is beautiful. Neon signs flashing over city streets are magnificent. I never fail to stop and marvel. My town illuminated all of its (not scary) trees around the train station and Market Square with thousands of miniature lights for the holidays. I love it. A forest of light is a forest where nothing lurks. I’m sure a folklorist or psychologist would explain how the forest represents our primal fear of the unknown and the danger that awaits those who dare venture away from the safety and security of the tribe/family/familiar. I’m not going to tell you any of that. I’m going to say there’s a reason, a reason that has nothing to do with holiday cheer, so many authors and filmmakers set their horror stories and cautionary tales in the woods—the colder and darker, the better. What’s the scariest place you can think of to set a story? What do you think of when you see woods in the winter?

Read More

Seeds

 One of my favorite books is Seeds by Richard Horan, which tells of his quest to find the “trees that inspired famous American writers.” At the back of the book are some wonderful quotes about trees and here are some of my favorites: “You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.”  –Hal Borland, Sundial of the Seasons “A tree growing out of the ground is as wonderful today as it ever was. It does not need to adopt startling methods.”–Robert Henri “He who plants a tree,/Plants a hope.”–Lucy Larcom “For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.”–Martin Luther “Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.”–Albert Schweitzer What inspires you? 

Read More

The shapes I see in trees

Every day that I can, I like to go off into the woods, with my two little dogs, and admire the trees. (You might have deduced as much if you read Maggie Dove.) Of course I love the leaves, but what really intrigues me are the shapes. There is so much drama in a forest! So much emotion, especially in the trees knocked over by a storm. Few things are as sad as a tree tossed to its side with green leaves still growing. What I love is how the shapes change depending on the light. IOne of the things that’s been very useful to my writing self is that trees help me see how humans express emotion.So, here are a few of my favorites.  1. Anguished treeLook out how the feathered hands reach up to protect, and you can almost hear the howl coming out of this poor trunk.   2. Ghost coming out of a tree.    3. Sassy tree: Can’t you hear it swish?    I have many more tree pictures, but perhaps I’ll stop there. How about you? Do you have a favorite tree?  

Read More

Search By Tags