Thursday, November 6, 2008

Study in Brown & a Wolf Tree

And then this:

I learned from Anne Whiston Spirn's book, The Language of Landscape, that there is such a thing as a "wolf tree". It is a tree that grew in an open, tilled field. It was left alone when the field was created. At that time it was not a wolf tree, but rather, just a tree.

After the field was left untilled, unfarmed, uncared for, the vegetation that had been kept at bay by plowing or haying, began to reclaim the field. As years passed, tree seeds fell on the field, from the wind or birds and began to grow. As is typical of new growth, they grew up straight. As they grew, they came to surround the old tree.

The new growth, untended, resulted in the tall, straight trunks with foliage at the top to get the light. At eye level there are none of the huge, horizontal branches that we see in the old tree.

So, there, in the middle of the skinny, new forest growth, is the very old tree, with its very old branches, large and horizontal, looking nothing like its new neighbors. And, now, its new growth grows upward rather than outward, because it too is fighting to reach the light.

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