Category Archives: dendrographia

Dendrographia

Dendrographia (den-dro-graf’-ia): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.


Here we go again. The one-hundred year old oak is a pain in the ass—especially in autumn. It’s probably at least fifty feet tall and three feet in diameter. On average it probably grew about six inches per year. It’s bark is nearly black with a tinge of light grey and some gray-green lichens attached to it. At its base is a little hollowed-out arch where I sometimes see a Chipmunk peering out when I ride by on my mower.

But, the hell of the oak tree is it’s leaves: turning reddish brown and falling off the tree by the friggin’ truckload: it’s a leaf storm that lasts about two weeks. I call it Fall Flutter Down. Cleaning up the fallen leaves is a family affair: three rakes, one tarp, one whining teenager with “better things to do.” We load the tarp over and over, and drag it to the curb and dump it over and over. The city has a giant vacuum cleaner to suck up the leaves.

Raking leaves is a pain in the ass with no redeeming value, except, I guess, getting it done and keeping the family intact while doing so.

In November, the acorns start falling and a pack of gray squirrels shows up to bark and chatter and eat, carry, and bury the nuts all over the yard. All winter, they’re out in the yard digging them up, and pooping and peeing on the fresh fallen snow, giving the front yard the look of a wildlife restroom. Some of the buried acorns sprout and I enjoy mowing over them in Spring as a kind revenge.

Now the old oak tree is undressed: branches naked, acorns on the ground, it casts shadows that move in the wind of Autumn’s final weeks. The squirrel’s nests are revealed now. There will be babies born, and I must admit I enjoy watching the little ones play on the tree and front lawn.

In a red sunset the tree’s shadows seem alive or maybe like the soul of the old tree caressing the earth—the home of its roots and womb of its birth.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Dendrographia

Dendrographia (den-dro-graf’-ia): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.

The ancient fallen tree caught the drizzling burst of rain as it struck its soft decaying trunk and soaked into the porous graying wood. It wasn’t alone there in the woods. It was surrounded by generations of beech trees–smooth silver bark and beechnuts; a favorite of foraging deer, chipmunks and red and gray squirrels. I’d like to think the fallen one is somehow responsible for the dense stand of mid- and large-sized trees surrounding it–a living legacy and testament to the continuous presence of life’s promise: of living and of dying , of offspring, of hope.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

The Daily Trope is available on Amazon in paperback under the title of The Book of Tropes for $9.95. It is also available in Kindle format for $5.99.

Dendrographia

Dendrographia (den-dro-graf’-ia): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.

There so many trees that are older than me. There is one in my woods. It is a white pine tree that, judging by its size,  is at least 80 years old. I am 70. I look up at it–it’s probably 100 feet tall. I am 6′ 2″ tall–I weigh around 200, the white pine probably weighs a ton.

The tree is graceful. As it sways in wind, its pinecones fall to earth and feed squirrels, chipmunks, mice and probably more! Additionally, its pinecones’ seeds sometimes sprout, take root and grow into new trees.

The white pine’s branches are covered with “needles”–green pin-like growths that do the work of leaves, and have a fragrance that says “Welcome to the woods.” Also, beneath the white pine, the ground is carpeted with sweet-smelling needles that have turned brown and make a soft place to rest or relax and daydream.

In sum, the white pine is a towering tribute to nature’s expressions of its beauty, diversity, and endurance.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Dendrographia

Dendrographia (den-dro-graf’-ia): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.

What is it that grows up so tall–so tall it becomes part of the skyline–cutting black shadows out of early evening and setting them along the edges of my fields?

Some have needles. Some have leaves. Pine and maple–all green in daylight’s sunny bath. The trees’ shadows mark time–as they lengthen, sunset begins to set and the trees’ shadows blanket the fields with rising darkness and a sunset backdrop filtering gently through the trees, making halos of diminishing pink and golden light.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Dendographia

Dendographia (den-dro-graf’-ia): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.

Tree. Tree. Tree. Three balsam pine trees. Three balsam pine trees planted by you, you, and me. We three, like the trees, stand together against the wind, join as silhouettes in front of the sunset sky, grow, love the earth, and smell pretty good too.

But the trees–the three balsam pine trees–will most likely outlive you, you, and me. That’s the difference right now between us and trees. And we know the myriad differences between we three and the three trees, but for now, let’s live in the simile–trees like us, we like trees.

This quality of liking heads us through these holy days and holy nights knowing that being in the spirit of seeing and feeling and tasting and finding and embracing and celebrating what’s alike opens in the aggregate everywhere, AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME, to the angelic powers of Eros and Peitho that open our eyes and ears and hearts and arms to the goddess Themis who counsels us, and fills us with a hot desire to attune our souls to the sweetest chord.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

The Daily Trope is available on Amazon in paperback under the title of The Book of Tropes for $9.95. It is also available in Kindle format for $5.99.

Dendographia

Dendographia (den-dro-graf’-ia): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.

Trees! Tall trees. Small trees. All trees. Dark bark maybe grey, birch bark black and white; day and night with leaves–leaves hanging by their thread-thin stems feeding light to sap, and in the sunny breeze of dawn’s mortal moment they swarm like clouds of butterflies waving winged shadows over tangled bumpy stumpy roots reaching deep beneath the soddy earth. The smell of pine. The womb of woods. The trees!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Dendographia

Dendographia (den-do-graf’-i-a): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.

The hillside was clearcut, except for one wounded fir tree wobbling in the wind; slowly dying in the bleak twisted mess that used to be a forest.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Dendrographia

Dendographia (den-dro-graf’-ia): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.

Driving alone along the winding country road–early morning–late autumn–just snowed–there’s an apple tree off in an overgrown abandoned field–unprotected, unpruned; abandoned like the field, but still faithful to the season set with bright red apples–untouched, untended, twisted gray & groping old tree–but red, red, red, red–too many pretty apples to count, too much left unsaid.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)