Remembering to breathe

Stress levels are high, and my mood is less than cheerful. But I’m trying to remind myself to focus on the good things. And also to breathe. Here are some recent photos taken outside, highlighting trees and vines and leaves. I offer them my thanks for the oxygen they provide, and for their breathtaking beauty.

Tomorrow is likely going to be a very long day.

funky acorns of Central Park

Yes, this post is really about acorns. In particular, some acorns that looked a bit funny to me, compared to those that my local oak trees drop. For one thing the acorns are really long. While they are probably of a similar thickness to those acorns I see locally, or maybe even a bit skinnier, they are quite a bit longer. Some of them even about twice as long as I expect an acorn to be.

Long acorns.

Second, they have these crazy-looking hairy tops. They remind me of see anemones and rambutans. Or shaggy wigs.

The caps from these acorns look like crazy hair. Or sea anemones. Or rambutans.

These acorns (and  presumably the trees they fell from) were near the reservoir in Central Park. I’m sure there is a way to identify them, but I’m not going to do so tonight. However, if any tree-lovers are out there who know the answer, let me know!

I liked the way these acorns lined themselves up along the sticks or vines on the ground.

This is just a stray leaf that caught my eye. I don’t know whether it is related to the acorns, but I believe it to be some sort of oak leaf.

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving, and since I’m going a little nuts getting ready, I figured I’d post a bit about some nutty-looking nuts.

bricked up tree


This was a tree that caught my eye, on the edge of the Boston Common. It led to me having various flights of fancy, including imagining that the brickwork was a last resort following the willful disregard of requests to birds not to set up their homes in the tree’s hole. (I like to think that the tree once boasted a “no trespassing” sign like the one in this older photo I took of a tree somewhere in my town.)

no trespassing



seeing the forest for the trees

Today, I am grateful for trees. I love them for their beauty, their shade, and shelter they provide to wildlife. I am also rather partial to breathing the air that they add oxygen to. I am very lucky to live in the woods, where I have only to look out the window to see trees. I find it calming to walk in the woods, too.

Here are a few photos I’ve taken of trees. (Most of these are near me in Massachusetts, but one photo is from New York.)

gallery of tree bark

As I was walking back to my car after my lab meeting in Boston last Friday, my eyes were drawn to the patterns, colors and textures of the bark of one of the trees growing along the sidewalk. In this case, it was the range of rounded blobby shapes, in muted greens and oranges, that attracted my attention, and made prompted me to take a photo. Of course, this is not an isolated incident. Tree bark has caught my attention far and wide, and over many a year. Here is a sampling of some bark to be found in my photo library.

More bark at BU, but clearly from a different tree. April, 2010.

Another tree in Boston, this time in March, 2012.

Boston, 2012, March. (Again. It was a good year for tree bark.)

Oakland, CA, January, 2011.

May, 2014, Malahide, Ireland.

Massachusetts, May, 2014.

I actually have no idea what kind of trees any of these are, come to think of it. I’m pretty sure not oak and not maple, but beyond that, I have no clue…

twisted mystery tree (friday foto finder: tree)

This remarkable tree is in Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco.

I took this photo on a visit there in March of 2009. (The lovely greenness and sunshine are a far cry from the weather we had today here in Massachusetts.)

I have no idea what kind of tree this is, but I love the way it twists around itself.Anyone have an idea of what sort of tree it is?

This week’s friday foto finder theme is “tree,” and I have successfully found a tree photo. On a Friday, even. (Actually, I have oodles of tree photos. It was once again hard to choose. ) To see what other trees have been found, pay a visit to the fff blog.

And since today happens to be International Women’s Day, it seems an appropriate time to share Shaking the Tree by Peter Gabriel and Youssou N’Dour:

There’s nothing to gain when there’s nothing to be lost
There’s nothing to gain if you stay behind and count the cost
Make the decision that you can be who you can be
You can be
Tasting the fruit come to the Liberty Tree
It’s your day – a woman’s day
It’s your day – a woman’s day

Happy International Women’s Day! Go shake some trees.

Note: if you were to shake the trees outside my house right now, you would end up with a lot of snow dumped on your head.

make like a tree

I’m quite fond of trees. You might even say that I identify with them. To celebrate their arborial grandness, and to follow up on the squirreliness of last week’s list, I bring you a Themed Thing list of Trees.

  • The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. This beloved book features Truffula trees, and is a parable (?) about the impact of excessive deforestation, industrialization and consumerism. The Lorax is a little creature who voices the warnings. “I speak for the trees.”
  • The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein. A book about a boy, who takes serious advantage of a generous tree. The tree gives, and the boy/man takes and takes. And takes. Till all that’s left of the tree is a stump. And this is supposed to be a moving tale of generosity. An environmentalist friend of mine from college once said of it, “I think it’s misguided.”
  • the_lorax.jpgthe_giving_tree.jpg

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a coming of age novel by Betty Smith.
  • The Tree of Man, a novel by Australian Author (and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature), Patrick White.
  • tree-hugger: A term used to refer to environmentalists, especially those who look to protect forests. Sometimes used pejoratively, but embraced by others.
  • Arbor Day A holiday for planting and caring for trees. And maybe for hugging them. In the US, it’s celebrated in April. (The next one is April 25th, 2008. Only 168 shopping days left.)
  • Christmas Tree A possibly Pagan-derived holiday tradition of decorating a tree with ornaments and lights and such. Usually a pine tree.
  • lost_pants_tree.jpg

  • syntactic trees (tree structures) Diagrams representing hierarchical structure are often described as trees. People studying syntax spend a fair amount of time drawing tree diagrams of sentences.
  • family tree The tree is used as a metaphor to describe relationships within a family, especially when drawing a diagram of relatedness.
  • Trees are prominent in mythologies and foklore from many cultures, including many variations on a mystic Tree of Life.
  • family_tree.jpg yggdrasil.jpg dryad11.jpg
    A German woodcut of a family tree, the Yggdrasil, and The Dryad by Evelyn De Morgan

  • Dryads, tree nymphs (or wood nymphs) from Greek mythology. They are among the magical creatures to be found in the Chronicals of Narnia. See also “The Dryad”, a story be Hans Christian Anderson
  • In Greek Mythology, Daphne is turned into a laurel tree while trying to escape the clutches of an amourous Apollo.
  • The Ents, from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien. Big tree people.
  • “Shaking the Tree”, an album by Peter Gabriel. Also a song with Youssou N’dour. [YouTube]
  • “barking up the wrong tree” An idiom alluding to a dog chasing a cat up a tree, but mistaking the location of said cat. It means “acting based on some mistaken impression”
  • “can’t see the forest for the trees”An expression to describe when someone is too caught up in the details to understand the larger context.
  • Then there’s the playground chant:

    X & Y sitting in a tree