Updated: Jun 24, 2021
Terry Ashley -
I seem to be happiest when I’m grounded–– literally—butt, back, or
belly on the ground. I love being eye-to-petal with a plant- with
nothing but my camera between us. What could ever be better than
crawling through a field of red poppies and golden buttercups and
recording their colors splashed over the landscape? And close-ups
from these positions—What magic to zero in on a drop of dew
clinging to a sprig of moss! I love lying on the ground and gazing up
at a nodding trillium. How else could I ever do it justice?
The next best thing to being grounded is bring captivated by the
cellular structures of some of these same plants while I’m peering at
them through the light microscope. This lets me see inside leaves,
stems, and flowers. The cell’s micro-structure determines their
function- their adaption to their environment.
Between the macro and micro images the possibilities are endless.
When I combine the two types of images, I call them “Botanical
Chords”. I have recently collected these into a book: Botanical Chords
and Harmonic Notes, which is available through my website:
The Dwarf White Oak Grove- June 1, 2020
Today I took Gypsy to the Dwarf White Oak Grove at The Mountain. She had never been and, as I expected, she was totally in awe of the place. It was a joy to share it with her. The timing was good. I wanted to visit again before the canopy closed. The contorted branches and new leaves against the sky spoke of suffering, endurance, and hope.
People ask me if I “can really hear plants talk”. Listen, but not necessarily with your ears, and you too can hear them speak. Perhaps you should start by looking at a cross section of a log of a dwarf white oak. Compared to a redwood the diameter isn’t large, but notice how close together the rings are.
It is by counting the rings (one for every year), that their age is determined. Before Europe even knew of the existence of the Americas, some of the oaks at The Mountain were already
over a hundred years old.
Look at their silhouettes- at the contorted shapes of their branches. This is the result of centuries of conversations between the trees and the wind. If you eves dropped on a storm, you could certainly hear them talking. In such a case, the leaves are the instrument, and the wind the musician, a might storm- a fierce racket. But the echo of the storm is here for you to “hear” with your eyes. The force of the wind twisted and bent the branches. Listen and you can hear their whispered murmur.
Life on the top of a mountain has other consequences. Lightening has struck them many times. Look for the results. A bolt hit some and burned one side- sometimes destroying the center core. Yet they refused to die. Notice the unstruck side
has continued to thrive, putting out new branches. Surely, if you listen, you will hear a song of survival. This is especially
true if you visit them in the spring, when the new spring green leaves, are joining the course of hope and renewal. I’m sure
there are birds, mammals, and insects that are grateful for the sanctuary they provide.
Listen closely and you may catch a glimpse of some of their songs of thanks.
All this is just a reminder that plants do speak so tune in and listen!