My wife and I are here for five days, camping in our tiny trailer, she working from her mobile office and I writing in a variety of formats--daybook, text app, and online. I took a small hike this morning and a small nap this afternoon. I identified two varieties of oak, bur and southern red, this morning, sketched a bit with pen and colored pencils.
Today I saw a magnificent tree with wide branching limbs, some as huge as the trunks of lesser trees. I knew from the leaves that it was an oak. Pulling out my Peterson First Guide to Trees of North America, I discovered there are over twenty variety of oak in North America. I knew the tree wasn't one of the evergreen oak varieties, and by comparing the leaves and acorns with the book's illustrations, I determined the oak tree was a bur (mossycup) oak because of the shape of its leaves and the fringe of elongated scales (the burs) on the acorn cups. Having identified the tree, I drew a sketch of the leaves and acorn in my daybook, including coloring with my dozen Crayola pencils. Great fun! Later I identified a southern red oak, its distinguishing features the thin shape of the leaf and the shallow shape of the acorn cup. A page in my daybook was dedicated to a leaf rub from the tree, followed by a written account in the daybook of my adventure. Not exactly Lewis and Clark, but fun research culminating in a better understanding of the trees around me and a unifying of my immediate personal life with my writing life.
I want to see the forest and the trees. Learning the names of the trees is a gesture of respect, an act of kinship. If you fear I might now describe how I hugged the trees, fear not. I am cautious. My wife and I also identified poison ivy turning read as we move toward fall. I have to be careful. How can I type if my hands are blistered from shaking hands with our colorful cousin?