Tag Archives: trees

dawn redwood tree

Next to the new house is a majestic tree that was unknown to me. My tree guides were all packed away so I searched the internet with a description of the reddish, cedar-like bark and luckily I found it fairly quickly. The tree is a Metasequoia, or the Dawn Redwood Tree. Native to China, it’s in the same family as our towering redwoods and considered a living fossil. I love that name, Dawn Redwood Tree. Here are a few pictures I took today.

The Dawn Redwood Tree in front of our house.

The Dawn Redwood Tree in front of our house.

She’s a pretty big tree! Even though the smallest of the redwoods, they can grow to over 150 feet tall. So, my feeling is that this tree is the guardian of our place. I took a closer picture of the bark. When it rains, the red of the bark becomes a fiery orange-red. This picture does not do it justice.

Metasequoia bark

Metasequoia bark

Since moving to this house, I’ve been getting up rather early each morning and this morning I was greeted by a stunning dawn sky outside my kitchen.

Morning sky

Morning sky

Settling in is slow going. Unpacking is daunting (so many boxes of books!) and figuring out where things go takes time. As I get used to the flow of the house, I have to tweak and make changes. The other morning, Brni asked, “So where are the glasses today?”

We also don’t have a clothes dryer yet so I made Brni dig a hole and plant a clothes dryer. I haven’t hung clothes outside in a very, very, decades-long time. I kinda like it.

no dryer yet

no dryer yet


sleety sky

I’m kinda proud of this one. Two days ago, in the lull between storms full of ice and rain, the sky was — majestic over our little village of Berwyn.

Sleeting sky

If you click on the picture and go to flickr, and then select the “original” size, you can see icicles on the branches of the trees. No cropping was done, just a bit of adjustment to the tone and clarity. It was a freaky day.


measuring trees

i found this fascinating…yes, i need a life.

from the Old Farmer’s Almanac site, three ways to measure the height of a tree without risking your neck:

(1) A local New Hampshire forester uses a Biltmore stick, which is marked with a special scale. He paces off 66 feet from the tree, holds up the stick vertically, and sights along the marks to the tree’s top and bottom. The scale tells him the height of the tree. (2) If you don’t have a Biltmore stick, take a yardstick and walk 27 paces from the base of the tree. Give the yardstick to a partner and ask him or her to hold it at the spot where you stopped. Then walk 3 more paces and lie down on the ground (on your stomach) facing the tree. Have your partner mark the points on the yardstick where you see the top and the bottom of the tree. The tree will be about ten times taller than the measurement on the yardstick. (3) Stand far enough way from the tree that the angle of inclination when you look to the top is 45 degrees. You will have created a right triangle with two sides of equal length. Then pace off the distance to the tree, which should equal its height.


exchanging air

Last night, just a turn beyond the summer solstice, westlinwind took me to her drumming circle. We stopped first at the 500 year old white oak on the property. The oak has a little plaque on it stating that the tree has been living here since before William Penn took possession of this part of Pennsylvania known as the Brandywine Valley. She is a magnificent oak with limbs sagging from their own weight, each one larger than most of the trees we live with today.

As I approached her, her massiveness grew as my gaze angled upward. Reaching out, I placed my hands on her rough skin, closed my eyes and immediately felt the weight of her history; a slow, low, rhythmic pounding ran through my body as we breathed each other in, making me feel dizzy and delighted.

Drumming in a circle of women is an amazing experience. Drumming under a 500 year old oak tree who has watched centuries of creatures pass by, consumed with their short lives, is something else again. I had the distinct feeling that other women have drummed under her, matching drumbeats to heartbeats to pounding sap, sharing secrets, exchanging air.

We stood under her as one told of her known past, a surveyor’s mark, the efforts of men to help support her heavy limbs with cables and prayers. We circled her, placing our hands on her, feeling her rhythm change from the slow pounding I felt alone to a faster rumble, taking in our human hearts.

Breathe …

“Penn Oak” at London Grove Meeting


drawing lessons

I used to be a watcher when I was little. I was very intent about it and almost never smiled. I earned the name, “the old woman” because of it. I could be very still, watching what the larger people in my life did, not really understanding, just taking it all in. When I was outside, I watched the animals and plants as well. Especially the birds. I tried to will them to come to me. I begged them without words, just yearning, but they stayed in the trees. I began climbing trees to get to them, but they took to the sky.

I had one tree I especially liked. It lived in our front yard, set down the hill a bit, away from the house. I knew this tree as well as I knew my own room. I could climb it and perch way up, where the branches swayed with what little weight I had to offer. It was peaceful up there and I was safe from the looks and questions and demands my parents and the others had for me. I was safely content to be up in a tree rather than down there, with the other children, where I always felt I had to defend myself from their prying eyes and loud mouths.

I wouldn’t call my internal world a happy one. No, it was more a feeling one full of sighs and wishes. Looking, watching, examining, figuring things out, longing to be part of the world of feathers, fur, branches and bark. The external world, the world of people pulling and pushing, harshly proclaiming their displeasure at my reluctance to talk to them was simply too loud for me to handle. There was no respect for the boundaries of my world. They just burst into my space anytime they felt like it, even when they could see that it caused a great deal of distress and pain.

All I wanted to do really, was draw everything I saw. So I peered at everything and recorded what I saw on paper. I had to, there was no choice in the matter. It was what I was. It was why I was. And they even used that against me as punishment for being quiet.

My father hated the way I did everything. He even hated the way I ate my food. “Don’t just eat all the peas at once. Take a bite of the peas…now take a bite of the potatoes…now eat some of the meat,” he would bully me as we sat at the table. Every meal was a misery. If I didn’t like the look of a thing, he made me taste it anyway. If I didn’t like what I tasted, I was a fool or a liar or some other name that would send him into a tirade, pushing away from the table with disgust to go sulk in the living room, or possibly out the door to the nearest bar.

So, when I had done some thing, a thing I can’t even remember, but a thing so absolutely awful that only a quiet child of 5 could do, he took away my pencils and my pads of paper. He told me I couldn’t draw for 2 weeks. I drew too much anyway, and I drew all the wrong things the wrong way. So he took the thing I truly needed to survive in the world away.

It hurt. Oh, how my hands hurt! There was nothing I could do to ease the pain — I still remember looking at my hands, holding them close to my belly, trying to ease the tension, the ache of not drawing. Crying in my room, begging my mother as she stood on the other side of the door, “Please, please, I have to draw. My hands hurt.” I think she understood because she smuggled a pad of paper and a pencil to me, through the crack of the door, telling me not to let Dad know. Later, I heard them yelling. Mom telling him how wrong he was, he telling her terrible things about all of us. The fighting went on, building in intensity and cruelty as it always did, until finally, Dad slammed out the door and Mom retreated to the kitchen to cry at the table.

I stayed in my room, listening and drawing, waiting for the sun to come up so I could climb into my tree.


tree house

This tree lives a few blocks from my house.

And yes, it IS alive.


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