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Tag Archive: environmental issues


 

It’s Arbor Day, so let’s revisit three books we’ve looked at previously at borg that remind us of the fragility and wonder of the magnificent tree.

If the Scots abandoned Scotland to nature, it would be the birch that would be the first tree to seize its chance, and a birch forest would walk the streets of Edinburgh.

Thomas Pakenham was referring to a gigantic pioneer birch tree in Rothiemarchus, Scotland, but he may have well been writing about the Ents, the grand, wise, old leafed characters of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth.  In his book Meetings with Remarkable Trees, Pakenham reproduces his real-life journey across continents meeting some of the oldest inhabitants of the planet, even if they never actually “walked” the Earth.  In beautiful photographs and stories, he introduces readers to the most noble of Earth’s elders, a chance to marvel in awe at their enormous height, or breadth, of their obvious beauty or strikingly twisted, meandering, slim, or expansive forms.  Pakenham, the 8th Earl of Longford, an Anglo-Irish writer, historian, and tree enthusiast, selected trees “mostly very large, and mainly very ancient, and all with a strong personality,” highlighting the unique qualities unique to each remarkable individual.  His folksy speech and storytelling is refreshingly regional, providing an herbivorous mirror to fellow Brit James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small.

To visit these trees, to step beneath their domes and vaults, is to pay homage at a mysterious shrine.  But tread lightly. Even these giants have delicate roots.  And be warned that this may be your farewell visit.  No one can say if this prodigious trunk will survive the next Atlantic storm–or outlive us all by centuries.

Thomas Pakenham’s photograph of the great Fredville oak, named “Majesty” at least as early as 1820 when it was sketched by artist Jacob Strutt.

And, indeed, even some of the trees pictured in Meetings with Remarkable Trees are no longer around, having succumbed to storm or man-made destruction.  Pakenham’s tome is something profoundly sacred or spiritual.  It’s peppered with historical references, literary allusions to specific trees, and including some very famous trees, whether a thousand years old or more than 200 feet tall.  It seems preposterous humans travel the globe to see manmade creations when we could be on pilgrimages to commune with these ancient living beings.  Sixty trees are grouped by personality: Natives, Travellers, Shrines, Fantasies, and Survivors.  Once you’ve met Pakenham and his craggy acquaintances in this book, you’ll want to move on to accompany the champion of trees on a year in his life in his book, The Company of Trees: A Year in a Lifetime’s Quest.

A different approach to individual trees can be found in photographer Diane Cook and Len Jenshel’s Wise Trees (a preview is below).  Some ancient and many not so ancient, the trees in this book include 50 selected from five continents and identified for their historic or inspirational stories.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If the Scots abandoned Scotland to nature, it would be the birch that would be the first tree to seize its chance, and a birch forest would walk the streets of Edinburgh.

Thomas Pakenham was referring to a gigantic pioneer birch tree in Rothiemarchus, Scotland, but he may have well been writing about the Ents, the grand, wise, old leafed characters of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth.  In his book Meetings with Remarkable Trees, Pakenham reproduces his real-life journey across continents meeting some of the oldest inhabitants of the planet, even if they never actually “walked” the Earth.  In beautiful photographs and stories, he introduces readers to the most noble of Earth’s elders, a chance to marvel in awe at their enormous height, or breadth, of their obvious beauty or strikingly twisted, meandering, slim, or expansive forms.  Pakenham, the 8th Earl of Longford, an Anglo-Irish writer, historian, and tree enthusiast, selected trees “mostly very large, and mainly very ancient, and all with a strong personality,” highlighting the unique qualities unique to each remarkable individual.  His folksy speech and storytelling is refreshingly regional, providing an herbivorous mirror to fellow Brit James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small.

To visit these trees, to step beneath their domes and vaults, is to pay homage at a mysterious shrine.  But tread lightly.  Even these giants have delicate roots.  And be warned that this may be your farewell visit.  No one can say if this prodigious trunk will survive the next Atlantic storm–or outlive us all by centuries.

Thomas Pakenham’s photograph of the great Fredville oak, named “Majesty” at least as early as 1820 when it was sketched by artist Jacob Strutt.

And, indeed, even some of the trees pictured in Meetings with Remarkable Trees are no longer around, having succumbed to storm or man-made destruction.  Pakenham’s tome is something profoundly sacred or spiritual.  It’s peppered with historical references, literary allusions to specific trees, and including some very famous trees, whether a thousand years old or more than 200 feet tall.  It seems preposterous humans travel the globe to see manmade creations when we could be on pilgrimages to commune with these ancient living beings.  Sixty trees are grouped by personality: Natives, Travellers, Shrines, Fantasies, and Survivors.  Once you’ve met Pakenham and his craggy acquaintances in this book, you’ll want to move on to accompany the champion of trees on a year in his life in his book, The Company of Trees: A Year in a Lifetime’s Quest.

A different approach to individual trees can be found in photographer Diane Cook and Len Jenshel’s Wise Trees (you’ll find a 16-page preview below).  Some ancient and many not so ancient, the trees in this book include 50 selected from five continents and identified for their historic or inspirational stories.

Continue reading

By C.J. Bunce

The TV series Arrow has done some surprisingly good things with the classic DC Comics character Green Arrow.  Many elements of Green Arrow’s more than 70 years as a popular superhero at least get touched on in the series, and if you ask around, comic book fans and more mainstream TV viewers are watching, enjoying, and talking about the show.  It blends the best of the superhero genre, a good adventure series, and yes, a bit of the CW Network’s prime time “soap” formula.   Oliver Queen gets his billionaire status, he even has a potential sidekick in a sister with substance abuse issues he calls Speedy, he has his bow and arrows, and one thing that has helped define him for the past 50 years–his love interest, Dinah, now Laurel, Lance.  Without his Black Canary, you don’t really have Green Arrow.  Just look back to the best of Green Arrow’s past via writers Denny O’Neil and Mike Grell.  But if there is one thing missing in the TV series Arrow, it is the most obvious thing of all: the “Green”.  It’s not just a word describing the guy’s supersuit.  At least it doesn’t have to be.  In a time when the green movement should be at its strongest, it’s ironic that the creators of the show have shied away from the concept.  Sure, the new Oliver Queen is all about saving his city.  But the Oliver Queen we have all loved since 1971 is an activist–ever since he first chastised Green Lantern for not watching out for everyman, not just every alien.  Oliver is outspoken.  He is political.  He is progressive.  He’d probably be considered a social liberal today. This defines Green Arrow and it has for years.  Arrow–the series–is getting far closer to the core of Oliver Queen than the writers of the New 52 over the past year.

Granted it is difficult to make a mainstream TV lead be political like Green Arrow has been in decades of the comic books.  But even the New 52 writers have stayed away from the core beliefs behind Oliver Queen in favor of a more safe, merely anti-corporate, frustrated figure, who just happens to wield a bow and arrow (and to be fair the creators are pretty much adapting the modern comic book mini-series Year One, itself a reboot). And Jim Lee even had his artists nix the goatee–a physical element that has come back into style in recent years more than ever.   Why eliminate such elements when they could only help Green Arrow’s mystique–why take away the very traits that can make him modern?

So what does Green Arrow have to do with Great Pacific, a new series this month from Image Comics?

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