Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’m sharing my thoughts and reflections on a lexicon (vocabulary specific to a certain subject) of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words. Ludic is defined as “playful, in an aimless way” and that’s my plan for approaching this challenge – keeping my feet on the joy trail and meandering wherever the daily word takes me.
S is for…
silvics: the study of the life history and characteristics of forest trees especially as they occur in stands and with particular reference to environmental influences
Today is Earth Day and I couldn’t help but choose a word to anchor my celebration. I’m definitely a tree lover and tree hugger; I feel such kinship with trees and am always looking for ways to connect and deepen my relationship. I literally swooned when I discovered the Sanskrit word for tree, padapa, means the one drinking with its foot. Knowing that, will you ever be able to look at a tree in the same way again?
In the early 20th century newly trained foresters of the U.S. Forest Service began studying the biology of American tree species and how they respond to human interventions. A first monograph published in 1914 on the balsam fir, ultimately led to the compilation of Silvics of North America – a two-volume set that covers conifers and hardwords.
My understanding of trees is certainly not that sophisticated or detailed, but I can’t help think of the words of Adrienne Rich:
Hermann Hesse, poet, novelist, and painter, was 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 powerful.
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. 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.
The Night Life of Trees has to be on of my all-time favorite books. I’m truly over-the-treetops in love with it. Created by Gond tribal artists Durga Bai, Bhaiju Shyam and Ram Singh Urveti it offers brief little folkloric descriptions accompanied by gorgeous illustrations that are hand-screened prints on black paper. A book with so many things I love – folk tales, trees, gorgeous art, and handmade paper! I love the publishers, Tara Books, in India – they have a wonderful vision/mission and are producing some real treasures.
Trees of course have a close relationship with birds. I always imagine that perhaps birds pay rent for their prime nesting spots by singing lovely songs to the trees. And I always picture the trees lining my street with their branches overhead woven together, as benevolent friends holding hands and watching over us.
I think I well understand the ecstatic words of Hafiz:
What about you? Are you celebrating Earth Day? Do you love trees? Have a favorite book about them you can share? Do tell – you know I love to hear.