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A Tree. For Me??

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I have a thing for trees. It's grown slowly over the years, like a tree does.

You may remember the huge red oak that grew by our mailbox. I certainly do. She was big once, when our children were small, and we waited for the bus beneath her friendly limbs.

This one is worth reading: Remembering the Oak.

But if you don't go read that, here's a fragment: 

This is how I will remember her, guardian of our driveway, stately landmark of our ridge road. I'll remember her shading a bluebird box, sheltering families of birds, lizards, insects, mammals, and four humans, often as not wearing a hawk in her hair.

 Forming attachments to people, to individual creatures, trees, even beef cattle...for better or worse, it's what I do. And when the woodpecker hits the window glass, when the tree comes crashing down, when the truck comes for that old tired bull, well, it's hard. But it is better to love and lose, they say, than never to love at all.

This isn't really a post about losing something. It's about loving things. I got plenty of lovin'.

I think you'll remember The Three Graces, trees that adorn a rise near my home. I photograph them in every light regime, every weather condition, and they have grown very dear to me. From left to right, they're red maple, sugar maple, and black tupelo.

To me, they are dancing ladies, each with her own rhythm and style.

I shouldn't say this in their presence, but I do have a favorite.  It's the one on the far right.

The black tupelo, who dances like Pigpen. 

Here's how they looked this morning:

 I am agog and amazed that I get to see such beautiful things every day. That I am able to get out in the fleeting hours that the sun shines and record such wonders. Hard to believe that was this morning, as a cold rain hits the window.

Traces of her famed autumn color are beginning to touch her hi-gloss leaves. She'll go maroon, then brightest crimson.

I moved around to get the sun on my beloved tupelo, only to find her top cresting and falling like a rogue wave. Who knew?

What a tree. I wonder if anyone else who drives by this grace-filled trio every day stops to cherish it?

So it is a piece of karmic perfection that the Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio, has for reasons known only to them decided to honor me this coming Saturday, October 11, 2014, by dedicating 

not one
not two
but an entire grove of black tupelos
to me. Zick. Whawhat?

When I first got the call two years ago I thought there must be some mistake. Don't I have to die first for an honor like that, for a bronze plaque with a little epitaph on it beneath a grove of beautiful tupelo? Don't I have to do something of real consequence? 

They assured me they had the right person. 
And in my heart, if only for the depth of my love for trees, I think they must. 

The tree dedication ceremony happens first, and immediately afterward, at 2 pm, I'll be speaking in the Visitor's Center at Dawes Arboretum. That part is open to the public, and Bill, Liam and I would be delighted to see you there. Find out more here. 

I wrote a little haiku, an epitaph for the plaque. Though last I checked I'm still alive.

The tupelo’s full
Of small blue fruits, offered up
For birds to carry

Like our words, aimless
‘Til they are taken, consumed
Planted in new minds

We must bear fruit, too
Some words, a painting, a song
To disperse this joy

With another favorite tree, the pawpaw. Thank you, Dawes Arboretum, for this honor.
Come see me Saturday, if you can!


Congratulations on the honor. Take a minute Saturday to look at photos of previous honorees in the hallway at Dawes - I especially like the shot of John and Annie Glenn.

Congratulations. You certainly deserve such an honor. I am happy for you. You bring so many to the attention of trees and nature. The world is better for it.

Hooray! I love this! We should dedicate more living things to living people. Congratulations to you and thanks for that beautiful poem.

What a lovely honor. I don't know one scintilla of what you do about trees, but I love them just the same. We have an old apple tree that we planted the year after my Mom died. Now, more than 20 years later, it's dying and in a few weeks, it will be cut down to protect the house and our neighbors from winter damage. I know it's inevitable, but Man, I'm going to miss that tree.

Oh my. I'm crying for you. What an honor! Will be there in spirit.

Posted by Gail Spratley October 7, 2014 at 1:25 PM

What a wonderful tribute... that you pay to the trees and that you are honored in return. I wish we were in Ohio... I love Dawes and would love to witness this event. Congratulations!

Wonderful! Congratulations, and well deserved. Your writing, your photography and artwork - in both your blog and books, even your music, all have been blessings to me. Enjoy your celebration and your trees!

How very wonderful and perfect! Congratulations.

Congratulations for this much deserved honor. This news pleases me so very much !
Darlene Shamblin

Posted by Anonymous October 7, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Congratulations Julie! Well deserved and just pure wonderful-ness. Enjoy your celebration!!

So glad you were awarded this honor. You deserve it AND it caused you to write this wonderful blog. It reminds me that it is just as important to see a lot of aspects of everyday things as it is to see new and different things.

Tears in my eyes reading this. What an honor, and well deserved. I applaud them for choosing you for this award.--Perfect!!!

Wonderful - your haiku brought tears, and the honor of your tupelo grove does, too. My mom's favorite tree is the black gum. Aunt Weezy in TX

Posted by Anonymous October 8, 2014 at 11:50 AM

What a wonderful honor. All I could think of is Van Morrison singing, "She's as sweet as tupelo honey. She's an angel of the first degree."

What you say about loving all those trees and critters, it's the best thing our hearts do for us, being open to the true splendors of this world.


You, who bring so much honor to so many (plants big and small, animals big and small, including people), richly deserve this wonderful recognition. Flowers to the living!

Posted by Sandraflora October 8, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Congratulations, and well deserved!

I enjoy reading your posts, they are so full of beauty and love and joy.

We earn our dedications the old way.
We earn them.

Well done Julie.

This is a PERFECT honor for you! My husband and I were already signed up for your talk even before we learned about the dedication. I hope you're bringing along your notecards, because I'd like to buy some!

oh oh oh. would that I had the superpower of timetravel and the capacity to be in two places at once. I will be there with you in spirit, dear JZ, know that for sure.

Love you, love those trees of yours, and love that there's a group out there providing the honor and recognition you deserve.


Posted by KH Macomber October 10, 2014 at 5:59 AM
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