I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow hast lain,
Who ultimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
- Joyce Kilmer
This post is inspired by blogger friends Caroline in Scotland and Karen in British Columbia. Caroline has undertaken a personal challenge to devote a block of her creative time and energy towards studying and sketching trees. Karen chooses to live quietly with her husband and four dogs with trees. I have always been drawn to trees... all kinds because they represent perhaps one of the most adaptable species on our planet and can be found in nearly every type of landscape in all parts of the world.
Throughout the history of man... the tree has commanded the attention and respect of many great thinkers and creative individuals. Trees form the basis of our architectural needs... are sources of heat... sources of food and are the basis of so many utilitarian products that we depend upon in our homes and businesses. Trees serve an even more important role to all living things by creating necessary oxygen which we must breathe... and the elimination of carbon dioxide.
And yet... in spite of the necessity to protect and respect the role of trees in the survival of the of all life on this planet... mankind continues to arrogantly clear cut... slash and burn... and eliminate old growth forests at alarming rates and without any concern of the obvious consequences of this path to destruction for our delicate ecosystem.
As my regular blogger companion Karen so aptly put it in her most recent posting... "We", as artists are "the canaries in the mine"... so to speak. No other group is more closely attuned to the environment and the massive detrimental influence that we as a species are exacting from the planet. In our painting lives ... in all realms... we bear witness to the grim reality that precious natural wild spaces are rapidly disappearing. Sadly... these spaces are lost forever to the sprawl of unrestricted development and the greed of corporate entities... who seem not to have any conscience or sense of responsible stewardship for the interests and well-being of our children of the future.
I have always believed that education of the young is the sole hope for the future... but we are approaching a critical point where recovery could be impossible. We will simply run out of time... and resources will not matter any longer. Life... as we know and enjoy it at present... will itself be in dire jeopardy.
This simple... but eloquent poem by Joyce Kilmer is a relic from my childhood... and the early childhood diet of poetry of so many school children on this continent. I used it effectively, I think... to introduce the importance of trees into elementary education. I added other great creative children's literature like Shel Silverstein's classic "The Giving Tree"... and the Dr Seuss standard... "The Lorax" to create opportunities to cause children to think about and embrace "Green" ideals such as stewardship to carry into their future worlds.
With Christmas quickly approaching... we are a little more than a month away from burying our traditional central image.... the Christmas Tree with gifts for our children. Electronic toys and games... gifts for "thumb monkeys"... will likely be the main fare on Santa's List. Why not throw in a couple of these book titles under your family tree... and some time over the holidays sit in a cozy corner or chair... and share the joy of being together... and the message of hope and optimism that these classics offer to readers of any age. They're timeless... especially... for the "Child Within"!
I intend to join Caroline's challenge and will take up the challenge in my own way. I have done so in the past... gaining a strong personal a feeling of accomplishment and artistic growth. Today... I offer a few examples of previous Tree Adventures from the recent past!
Why not dedicate a few hours of your own time to offering tree images from your part of the world? By enjoining our energies and our brushes... perhaps we can paint a brighter picture of Hope... that others might see and support. What is to be lost? What might be gained?
Good Painting to All !