Monday, February 21, 2011

Family Tree

As it turns out, I'm not the only person who can melt at the site of a tree.  On Saturday, we went to the Getty Museum and there was a special exhibit of tree photographs.  It was awesome.  I wish I could upload every photograph and share them with you!  There were amazing shots of men at the foot of the giant redwoods in California in the mid 1800s and men cutting down the giant cedars near Seattle in the early 1900s.  There was a photo of trees, paths, and snow in Washington Square Park from the 50s.  Greg said he'd seen it when he was a little boy and he remembers thinking that he wished he could live in New York City.  Be careful what you wish for!

There was a photo by Diane Arbus of a 1960s living room set for Christmas.  Greg and I remembered that horrible tinsel that we used to throw on trees.  My mother would walk around for months finding that stuff.  It hid in corners and stuck to things and you couldn't really vacuum it all up because it would clog up the rollers of the old reliable Electrolux canister vacuum with the power beater attachment.  The same door-to-door salesmen must have traveled all over the Midwest because when Greg and I got married, I realized that we both grew up with the same set of encyclopedias, Electrolux vacuum, and Saladmaster cookware.  One time a guy came to our door selling some kind of fish supplement.  My dad invited him in and bought the whole kit and caboodle for my mom because he thought they would give her more energy. 

The two photos that I spent the longest time gazing at though were taken in 2009 by a South Korean artist, Myoung Ho Lee.  His series of tree photos mix nature with the man made.  He takes a large white piece of material and suspends it in front of trees and then shoots the photo. My favorite was a night shot with back light so that the shadow of the tree looked like it was imprinted on the material.  Here's a link to some of his photographs:

Trees have been the symbol of life forever it seems.  We use it to describe our families and remember our ancestors with our family trees.  They are giant playgrounds for our kids.  My daughter, Ashli, still loves to climb trees like her mama.  Her name is derived from the Old English word for ash wood and means "one who lives in the ash tree grove."  Did I know that she would love trees when I named her?  Adults have had sit ins on their branches so that corporations won't cut them down.  Dads build houses in them so their children can have secret clubs with their friends. 

In Genesis, we read that "out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil."  When I was a little girl, I learned with my sister that the sap that gets on you from climbing a pine tree is nearly impossible to remove.  It ends up looking like black tar which makes it impossible to lie to your mother about where you've been.

The Celts considered trees living entities that possessed infinite knowledge and wisdom. They represented the cycle of life, death, and renewal and they based their Zodiac calendar on trees unlike the zodiac we are all familiar with.   Since my lovely daughter is one of my two followers at this time, I looked up her Celtic Zodiac.  Her tree is a Hazel tree which is part of the birch family.  Her zodiac says that she is perceptive, clever, has good reasoning power and that this sharpness of intellect makes her an excellent debater and writer as well as a wonderful planner and organizer (even down to the smallest detail).  Do you know my daughter with her two sets of twins? 

Hmmmm.....I just looked up my Celtic Zodiac and my tree is the ash tree! I am the "full moon" type of ash because my birthday is at the end of the cycle.  My mental goal as a full moon ash is supposed to be "to learn that problems and questions are not exclusive to an individual . . .others also ponder."  Does this have any relevance to my career?  Now I am fully aware that when we as humans read any kind of Zodiac, we grasp on to the things we want to validate us, and toss the other words away, but I do find all of this at least interesting given the Celtic roots that are in our family.

In my family, my ash tree came from a hazel tree (my mom) and an oak (my dad).  My brother and sister are both elder trees.  The elder is said to be the tree that was used for the cross that Christ was crucified on and St. Patrick used an elder branch to drive the serpents out of Ireland.  When planted close to a home, it is believed to protect and give immunity from evil.

And today my ash tree is surrounded by vines that are good at binding and clinging (my husband, Ashli and Ty),  a hazel tree which was said to be a reminder to trust and listen to tuition (Brittany), holly that is strong and protective (Torie),a rowan tree whose blossoms are members of the rose family (Matt), and a willow  that  is said to help soothe those who are hurt (Don).

My grandchildren are hawthorns that bring good luck (Logan and Lindsey), three alders that are said to evoke courage (Peyton, Carson, and Dylan), another willow to sooth (Amélie

If you'd like to read your Celtic Zodiac, here's a link:

Two pictures that set my heart to leaping today; the winter trees (yes, California has seasons) at the Getty and two palm trees silhouetted against a blue neon building that we saw on our way home.  

The groves were God's first temples.  ~William Cullen Bryant, "A Forest Hymn"

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.  ~Minnie Aumonier

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.  ~Willa Cather, 1913

Climb a tree - it gets you closer to heaven.  ~Author Unknown

1 comment:

  1. Mom, I love this on so many levels! How interesting and sweet! I really enjoyed reading this! Love you, mama!