is for xylo
Meant to be used in the formation of compound words, xylo means wood.
X words are hard enough to find, and one relating to this abecedarium’s theme of flora is no exception. I’m not going to combine xylo with anything, but rather embrace it boldly as the wood it is, and muse a bit about trees.
I have t(h)ree things to share today.
- Something magical:
A brief video by Brett Foxwell entitled WoodSwimmer made from cross-sectional photographic scans of pieces of hardword, burls, and branches. Oh my!
- Something profound:
Hermann Hesse was a poet, novelist, and painter, constantly exploring one’s authentic nature, self-knowledge, and spiritual issues. He had a deep love for trees, and I think what he says about them is both beautiful and a powerful invitation to live in sovereign wholeness.
“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.”
- Something artistic:
Artist Katie Holten, too, has a love of trees. Filling pages with tiny sketches of New York city neighborhood trees, she began to notice how they looked like they were telling stories, or appeared to be some secret code. From that point of inspiration, she created a tree type font. Every letter is represented by a tree – A is for apple, B is for Beech, etc. You can see it here.
She then used the type to create a book entitled About Trees. It’s a wonderful anthology of eclectic writing about trees, gathered from all sorts of sources, all kinds of authors. For each piece of writing, she does a “translation” – rewriting the original work into her tree front, thus creating tree art. For some of the longer pieces, the tree writing begins to look like huge mysterious forests.
I find the book appealing on so many levels – the gathering of eclectic writing about trees; the beauty of the tree font, which turns everything into a foreign language like secret coded messages. And I just love that such creative explorations exist – inspiration followed and beauty results.
And that’s what I have to say about xylo. Do you have something tree-related to share? Are you fascinated with secret codes? Like to listen to trees? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
I listen to the trees. That’s one of the reasons I like where we live– on a wooded lot. As much as I like trees, I’m woefully ignorant about the various kinds. Maple, oak, and birch, I can identify, but other ones I’m less decisive. The book you make reference to sounds like it might set me straight.
I’m always delighted to find another tree listener Ally, and how lucky to live in a wooded area.
I’m not entirely sure how helpful the About Trees book will be useful to you in your quest to identify trees. However I might recommend Stikky Trees- “Learn to recognize at a glance the 15 most common trees in the United States–in just one hour”. It’s a small volume, but uses a pattern-based system to help you master learning which I found this hugely helpful.
Thanks Deborah so much! I am looking forward to going BACK to your abacaderium on flora – I know I’m in for a treat even if takes me a while to do so. I’m reminded of the xylophone which if memory serves me well, is made from wood?
I’m surrounded by trees where I live, denuded at the moment mostly, on account of winter, but there’s nothing more joyful than walking among trees, whether in the suburb where I live or in a forest when out of town. Imagine, from the tiniest acorn, a might oak grows.
I love Herman Hesse’s ode to trees, and Katie Holten’s sketches.
I’d add to one of your t(h)ree – the roots I gather are a deep and as wide as the branches’ span. And the blessed shade they provide …
I love your addition Susan – perfect!
Someone recently shared an image with me that I can’t keep out of my mind – that winter trees in their bareness remind her of being quietly at home in her pajamas. And when they’re all leafed up it’s like they’re out being social at a party – so winter is home time and summer is out-and-about time. Makes me smile whenever I think about it.