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.
Trees are our symbiotic friends. We humans underappreciate their importance in our continued existence. Those two books look really good.
Trees are truly blessings.
Ah, Have you connected with The Tree Whisperer? https://www.thetreewhisperer.com/
Oh, Beth – you’ve turned me on to something wonderful – thank you!
I do love trees and we have many of them here to enjoy in all seasons. That’s a great word for it “one drinking with its foot.” So perfect.
You’re in a lovely tree-filled place, indeed, Margaret. And truly, I get shivers of delight whenever I think of padapa.
I love being around trees and going for hikes in the woods. Maine is covered in trees. We have the highest percentage of forest of any state at around 90%. Weekends In Maine
Wow, Karen, I hadn’t realized that. That’s fabulous.
I have seen the “tree font” before and I love it 🙂
The Multicolored Diary
It’s so wonderful, isn’t it?!
It is Spring here and every year, I am delighted to be reminded of what is not apparent most of the time – that trees are part of the flowering plants…
On drinking with their feet, a friend told me he was visiting a farm and the farmer showed him a hole where for some reason he had dug down and exposed the tap root of a tree. He took a bucket of water and threw it in the hole – the root sucked it up before their eyes like a teenager with a bottle of coke and a straw…
Lovely piece Deborah
Spring is absolutely my favorite season, and flowering trees are a big part of the reason. It feels like a special kind of magic to me.
The tap root story is amazing, and the coke image is perfect. Definitely had me smiling.
Your post is just wonderful to read. I love the Sanskrit word for tree, and this book about trees by Katie Holten looks fabulous! A great AtoZ idea for you next year 😉
You may be on to something, Frédérique. 🙂
Love it! Padapa fits for trees if one thinks of the foot as the root. Silvics is perfect for Earth Day.
I swear, I grin every time I think about the root as a drinking foot.
silviculture here is a dirty practice undertaken by forestry who are so not the good guys in which they practice ‘timber harvesting’ to leave only a certain species that fits in nicely with the woodchip mill model. gone the biodiversity the wonder the magic the wholeness of forest
here at home the forest is doing its best to recover from the fire , everyday I applaud its efforts and while I do not expect to ever see the grandeur that was I am so very grateful to have dwelt in that experience and heartened by its commitment to return to holistic Being.
This saddens me deeply Sandra, and I know the outrage you must experience. When will we change?
I’m glad you’re getting to witness the recovery progress of the forest. I can imagine each reclaiming bit of growth must be a little balm for the heartbreak of the devastating loss. I think about you and your beloved land often, and am grateful your energy and light are there.
What a beautiful post. I too am a tree lover and a tree hugger. I love the way you think about the trees. I will think of padapa now whenever I see a tree, I love that!
It’s always a joy to find kindred tree lovers, Martha. And padapa is such a delightful image, isn’t it? I think the trees like being seen that way.
Happy Earth Day! The Night Life of Trees sounds lovely – I’ll have to add it to my reading list.
It’s wonderful, and I hope you enjoy it. BTW, I love your surname. 🙂
Oh yes, trees are one of the best things in the world! Scientists are learning some mind-blowing stuff about how trees interact with each other and their environments. It’s just amazing. And thank you so much for sharing the meaning of “padapa.”
Black and White: S for Shangri-La
All the things scientists are discovering make me smile. The beloved trees have been such good secret keepers, haven’t they?
Love. Love. Love.
Hugs from one tree hugger to another:)
Thank you for the Sanskrit word for trees–it’s perfect.
In 2019, I watched a film called Talking about Trees: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9658178/
It’s a gem. It’s about a group of Sudanese film makers who want to revive cinema in Sudan. It’s a must see. There aren’t that many trees in the film, but the reason they picked this title is to show the severity of political oppression in the country is such that even ‘talking about trees’ is frowned upon–so as to say, talking about something as natural/beneficial/ life-affirming as trees.
That sounds like a must-see film Arti – thanks for mentioning it. I’ll be looking for it.