I blame Karl Benz, among other inventors… He set up the world for change forever. Not that someone wouldn’t have come along and invented an automobile if he didn’t think it up. A means of getting from A to B quicker than horses; but so much more. The whole world then took steps to revolve around cars. Astounding but true. Roads, gas stations, pavement, etc. had to naturally follow suit and CHANGE the entire landscape. Does this sound familiar?
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot?
How about this:
You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…
That is the actual magnet I have taped to a cabinet in my bathroom next to the cat tree. I see it every day. I see my self as an ineffectual Lorax. Nowadays everyone needs a car. Like electricity. Like computers. I’m not the first one to make that observation. Trees, so very often, are the obsolete and expendable victims in the name of such progressive inventions.
“The tree cutters are doing their job, Mom,” says my son, “and the tree cutter is probably a nice guy.”
“Yeah well,” I counter, “do the tree slayers in the Amazon who are pummeling rain forests, make that same point? ‘…just doing my job…’ I mean, WHY do they choose that job?”
He shakes his head at me.
Roadside trees, like any tree, are always in motion, stirred even by gentle breezes and teeming with life, while rooted to the spot. The trees no one sees, the grand sprawling reachers and the ones with highway soot, crowded by progress with cans and debris embedded in soil around their roots, plastic bags snagged tattered in their arms, are miracle ecosystems. ‘Ordinary’ trees are things of beauty, and surpass my imagination.
Redwoods are marvels because they surpass most folks’ imagination and have seen the beginnings of time as we know it, or so it seems. Also, their canopies are just beginning to be explored. Half the world’s creatures live up there. I have never seen a redwood in person, or a magnificently limbed yew, or a 6,000 year old baobob, but I will one day. There are many ways that redwoods are rather like people (as I read in the book by Richard Preston called The Wild Trees)
For example, the book states, that a basketball player is (generally speaking), tall and lean in stature. But football players may be stockier, solid, compact. Which person is truly the larger person? Redwoods that are the absolute tallest in height (like basketball players) tend toward being lean in their trunk girth. Whereas the redwoods that are the largest in diameter tend to be shorter, although still extremely impressive in height.
There are often fires in the topmost crowns of redwoods, something I did not know but learned in the book I’m enjoying (see above). When the fire dies out, the tree often resiliently survives and ‘fire caves’ are found at the tops of many redwoods. In the topmost parts, limbs often grow horizontally and even fuse together creating castle-like areas where numerous fungi and even perfectly nourished berry bushes flourish, so high (over 350 feet up) that from the ground, these treetops seem like fuzzy blurs of wispy smoke, whole unseen worlds. Walking through a redwood forest, the light doesn’t get through. Ferns are waist-high and there is silence and just a hint of gray-green light that surrounds.
One particular redwood shot up 250 huge trunks in addition to its original. There are full grown species up there of other species of trees!
The Redwoods roots hold hands underground creating a stable base for the grove, which, I don’t have to tell you, is disappearing too fast. Up in the canopy, or crown, not many birds bother nesting because the bark gives off a poison which deters bugs. Without bugs (except for the occasional osprey nest or owl hunting for voles which live in the tree) birds don’t bother with redwoods too much.
over a thousand years, soil has blown and accumulated in the crowns, in crotches and in books and buttress cathedrals of the giants. There are deep pockets up there of soil, where rare fungi grows, (bearded, lacy, fringe-like, you name it) and in addition to the berry bushes bearing fruit which I described, there are other trees growing right on the redwoods!
Imagine bonsais, fully formed, gnarled, impressively trunked and branched trees of species other than redwood, growing in miniature all over the upper canopy of a redwood titan, unseen by most! It’s true.
“My” (I’ve never truly owned it) one Maple has been hacked completely in half vertically to accommodate the electrical wires. Nonetheless, it has provided shade for picnics for the (over 25) years I’ve been at this address; with the sad but determined half of it that remains. It’s best limb held, for years, a child’s swing. I’ve watched a cat climb the Maple and systematically disrupt a squirrel’s nest; nesting materials pawed recklessly to the ground. I was surprised to see dryer lint in the mess. Apparently squirrels, the resourceful little beings they are, were grabbing it from dryer vents in the neighborhood. How fresh and soft a nest! The squirrels must’ve gone around smelling pretty nice. The tree is home now to bluejays and gray squirrels and also black varieties of squirrels, as well. I’ve often said that if the tree is cut down completely (that is imminent) I’ve no reason to stay here, I’ll move. I’ve got to make some sort of art honoring it.
Sunday I put aside my digital tree-drawing because I’d received a request to do a live radio interview for KOOP, out of Texas. I said I would. That took place Monday and was live on air with a delay in case I swore. I didn’t! However, because the questions often took me by surprise, I faltered. Here’s my biggest live-on-the-air faux pas: I was describing photographic memory, and I used the word ‘didactic’ when I meant to say ‘eidetic.’ AAAaaarrrrggghhhh!!!!!
It’s been taped but I don’t have the link just yet. I didn’t expect so many autism questions, and even though I had notes, I feel I was stumbling a bit with my answers. Autism Awareness Month, or whatever they are calling April now, is a sore thumb for so many people. I did my best and that’s all I can do- afterwards, one of the men who interviewed me called to thank me and said, “May our paths cross again sometime.”
We’ve had a Nor’ Easter’ here in the east, at the rate of one per week and although the rose bush and trees have little buds now, they are often coated in snow. It is April 9 as I write this, and I think the snow has now passed. I enjoy bare trees, because this is when the patterns emerge like mosaics but they will have leaves before long now I think. Except for ‘Maple,’ which is due to come down soon. I talked to the tree cutter personally last week…
In addition to doing a portrait of ‘my’ tree before it is murdered, I was thinking I should do a series of paintings of the trees that are the rarest, the ones in danger of whole species collapse. Right now, I am working on book two, the memoir that will follow Under The Banana Moon. Perhaps the best compliment I’ve gotten, the one that resonates with me when I doubt myself is this:
“Kim, it is as if you write yourself into hope.”
I believe that to be a true observation.
I’m also illustrating a children’s book for someone, my former speech pathologist, and doing my parttime job as quality assurance tester in the software field. I doubt myself a lot, perhaps too much, but doubt for me, is also a motivator. Since I took a place on the BOD with Art of Autism, I’ve come to know many peers young and un-young, with so many valuable things to share, talents, words, thoughts, music, they are contributing to the world we live in. If you’d like to share your passion on our P.O.D.S. (People of Diversity, Speaking) page, please email me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you.
I sold a painting over the weekend, to a college student at Lesley, in Cambridge, who read my book Under The Banana Moon as a class assignment. He is a new father and bought this painting to decorate his baby daughter’s nursery. I don’t always get details on who buys what, but in this case, I did and it made me smile.
People seem to like my ‘dancing’ themed paintings. Here’s a thought I had, why not incorporate dancing AND trees. This is what I have been doing in terms of art expression lately.
I do believe that even with all the chaos we live with it seems sometimes there is no hope but I also believe, because I have felt it, that as a response to the uprising of decay and unrest, there has been a higher awareness too, in many many people, a spiritual awakening such as our world has not seen in a very long time, although perhaps our (thousands of years old) redwoods have seen this type of spirtitual awakening before. At least I hope my intuition is correct on that observation. Yes, I write myself into hope, I see that is true.
Before I post those links, here’s something funny that happened over the weekend:
Riding through Milford in the car, I saw a girl of about 8yo walking a dog on a front lawn apparently waiting for it to do its business. She was holding the leash, arms crossed, wearing a scowl; tapping her foot impatiently. I did a double-take! She was “walking” a stuffed animal. Sometimes the world is so funny.
Here is a link or two directing you to what I have been up to. The following link is a PODCAST I did last month. Becca and Katherine chat a few minutes, and then I come in with an awkward hello! As I said, I don’t have the radio interview link yet, but I will soon.
PODCAST with DifferentBrains Spectrumly Speaking:
Lastly, I have to mention a talented writer and kinship I’ve found with someone (Melissa) I ‘met’ on Twitter, who recently decided that for Awkward April (my terminology for awareness month) she was going to buy art things from autistic peers, and read and do reviews on books written by autistic people. She reviewed my book at the following link:
This was my response to her review:
@AutisticZebra, I wish I had something eloquent to say about this review. (With moist eyes) I say ThankYou. Writing the book, I hoped someone could relate. As a reclusive introvert, and quite isolated, it was like throwing a clothespin & hoping someone would read the note attached. You Did.
If that doesn’t encourage me to get serious about writing Under The Banana Moon, Two, what will? Any ideas for a book title for Book Two? The topics are heavy, trans issues, PTSD, anger, etc. That’s all for now!
UPDATE: A few days after this post: