Weird Things People Do to Trees

Trees are ancient creatures. Then humans came along. Somewhere along the way we forgot this:

The Green Man
An ancient symbol of human origin, the green man remains relatively common in churches and city squares in Germany and England, reflecting a time in which people felt kinship with trees. This one is in the town square of Görlitz, Germany, a half kilometre from the Polish border and keeping his eye on the politicians coming out of the city hall across the street, with its private gallows (no longer, one hopes, in use.)

Now things are going in a different direction. We seem to think that no one’s looking. Here’s a tree at the entrance to a subdivision marketing itself on a horticultural theme:

Hawthorn Dying of Drought
The orange colour of the wood and bark are signs of irreversible damage due to drought. So is the dead bark at the tree’s crown. The French lavender seems to have come through the winter OK, though.

Maybe hawthorns aren’t as easy to tend as they look. Here’s one of a squadron of them soaking their feet in a lawn at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna:

Hawthorn Drowning
Note its struggle to try to grow past its water-damaged crown, with new shoots from the roots.  By the looks of things, even the new shoot needs a scuba tank.It’s no easy feat to create a waterlogged environment where there was once well-drained grassland, but it seems it can be done. Note as well the orange bark: it seems the water disappears by midsummer. Oh well. Next time try mock orange, I guess.

I think what’s been going wrong with these trees is a misconception that trees are made of wood, which is, of course, a dead construction material, as we all know. Here’s another way that water can hasten a healthy tree along to that exquisite form:

Well-salted Aspens
It seems that if you spread your city wastewater on the grasslands it kinda soaks down underground and accelerates the depositing of salt into shallow lakes. It also seems that poplar trees don’t like that either. Who knew! Interesting art installation, though.

Of course, since trees are wood, and not living creatures, there’s no need to accord them the dignity of removing their corpses from our mistakes. And should a tree ever find its way downtown, right into the heart of human environments? Ah, well, beauty, really:

Tree Turned into an Art Gallery
Waiting for a new show.  We are all curators.

Sometimes the way in which we human curators of The Big Show forget that we share the planet with our brothers and sisters leads to such art forms as dance:

Fence Holding up its Posts
Another great art installation! Notice the very healthy looking wild hawthorns to the right. No orange heat-baked bark there. It’s not, in other words, the climate that has failed the hawthorns we saw above.

Wood, of course, is no longer always the building material of choice. Here’s Vernon’s new public library, complete with the traditional good luck charm of a sacrificed tree at its peak:

Foldable Christmas Tree Builder’s Blessing
You know that sympathetic magic has come a long way when it’s so sensitive that it acknowledges that a made-in-China-from-recycled-milk-bottles-and-clothes-hangers-and-shipped-across-the-sea Christmas tree is considered a more appropriate good luck charm for a metal-framed building than a tree cut down in the forest up the hill.

Somehow, I think the Green Man would not be amused. People, let’s all remember that we are not alone, and that the others are watching us.

Keeping an Eye Out …
for 3 people walking, 3 workers lunching in a chain-link compound on a hill, and one border-collie-labrador cross attempting to herd the humans wherever it seems they’re most likely to go. Whew.

I suggest that under the circumstances it would be prudent to conduct ourselves with a little dignity.

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