Mr. Linden’s Library

On one hot summer afternoon, a new relationship was formed. It is a relationship like no other. On September 4, 2015, Mark Scott, Dickinson College’s Arborist, introduced me to my tree—Fagus grandifolia or otherwise known as the American Beech Tree. At first I thought can I really form a lasting relationship with this tree? Can I truly want to visit this tree every day and bask in its shade? Will this tree look beautiful to me rain or shine? Will this tree even provide me shade on a hot summer’s day? These were the questions that circulated through my head when I first met this tree. But then, as I peered into this tree’s soul, I began to realize that there is more than what meets the eye. I saw how the want, the need and the desire this tree had been building up inside of it just waiting to share its wonderful stories with one lucky person. I chose to be that one lucky person.

It all started as my fellow classmates and I were walking around campus with Mark and claiming trees. I just could not find one that I liked after much anticipation. That is until I came across my one true tree, Mr. Linden. He just spoke to me standing 20–35 meters tall with silver-gray colored bark near the flag on the academic quad. Mr. Linden’s species is known to have smooth bark, but his lively silver-gray colored bark had been tampered with by humans. His sturdy, aging, carved trunk tells many stories of love, history, pain and so much more. I visit Mr. Linden quite often and listen to the stories he has to tell. I like to think of it as visiting Mr. Linden’s library where I hear a new story every time.

Mr. Linden’s stories

If you examine all of the trees on Dickinson College’s campus, you will notice that my Mr. Linden is the only tree that has many stories to tell due to human impact; carvings on his trunk. In “A Sand County Almanac,” Aldo Leopold says that “not all trees are created free and equal” (Leopold, 68). Even though the stories Mr. Linden has to share with me are wonderful, showing history through time, he is the only one who can share these kinds of stories. I am a bit biased and the carving process must be painful. There will come a point where he will just have no more space to carve and can no longer tell stories. As Leopold stated, signatures of conservationists differ whether written with an axe or a pen (Leopold, 68).

 

 

Work Cited:

Leopold, Aldo. 1949. A Sands County Almanac. Oxford University Press.

Adventures of a City Girl

Coming from New York City, you do not really see many trees or experience the great outdoors. The great outdoors for me is Central Park. Just strolling through the park, no matter what season, shows how beautiful manmade nature can be. However, my relationship with nature changed in December 2014 when I stayed in the Ecuadorian part of the Amazon Rainforest.

During my stay in the Amazon, I went on both day and night hikes, bird watching as the sun rose, saw spiders as big as my face, met a Shaman, became best friends with a monkey, had a boa restrictor dangle one inch above my head, saw caimans and bats at night, came very close to a baby anaconda, took showers in a lagoon and lived in a straw hut. That was quite the adventure that I had no clue I had signed up for. Yet, I seemed to enjoy what I once thought was torture. I mean finding a big hairy spider the size of your face hanging out on your bed just waiting for you is torture but becoming best friends with a monkey was not all that bad. Through this experience, I learned to appreciate nature.

In this remote lodge– a two hour boat ride and thirty minute bus ride away from a small town, where there is no electricity, cell service, or internet, really seemed to put me in touch with Mother Earth. For the first time in my life I saw stars that completely lit up the sky, to the point that a candle or light bulb was not even needed for a source of light. I used books to identify all of the animals I encountered. I felt as if I was living off the grid with no modern amenities whatsoever.

Seeing and experiencing all of that was remarkable, but my visit to the largest tree in the Ecuadorian part of the Amazon Rainforest just topped everything else. This tree was massive! When I say massive, I mean that you can only get the trunk in a picture. The trunk itself is also so big that it is hard to get in a picture. It is called the Kapok tree and it can reach up to two-hundred feet in height, sometimes growing as much as thirteen feet per year. The trunk can actually expand to nine or ten feet in diameter. The tree produces anywhere between five-hundred and four-thousand fruits at one time, with each fruit containing two-hundred seeds. Inside of these fruits are silky fibers. The kapok tree is found in South America, Central America, Mexico and even in parts of West Africa. The guide told us that it is actually believed that there are Kapok trees in West Africa because the unopened fruit floated its way from Latin America to Africa since the unopened fruit doesn’t sink in water. We all took a fruit from the tree and tried to submerge it in the water but it floated making us believe that the story was true!

Me in front the Kapok tree in the Amazon Rainforest

The guide also told us how the Kapok tree serves many uses to us humans. Its wood is good for making canoes, the silky fibers from the fruit are good for making pillows, and some parts of the tree can be used as medicine. Thinking back to this moment and re-reading Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” made me think about how humans are continuously taking from the environment until there is nothing left to enjoy, neither beauty nor bounty. After humans exploit the tree of its resources, the tree has nothing left to give. In this story, the tree was not happy.

 

 

Work Cited:

Silverstein, Shel. The Giving Tree. New York: Harper & Row, 1964. Print.

http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/kids/species-profiles/kapok-tree