A Love of Wild Trees, the last of the series

Meditations on the tree, that is not a tree…

And this is the tenth in a series, of ten, from http://tim.girvin.com/Entries/index.php.

A pine grove | Decatur Island

When I contemplate this series, writing about trees, ten times — and the reflections that lie there: the time, the places, the travels — there is one tree that is absent, and comes forth to my mind, and my memory, now. The sense of the grown grove is deep in memory — but what grove, recalled?

A bamboo grove, Kaua’i, Hawai’i.

And it’s not a tree, in the normal understood sense of a coniferous — or a deciduous — wood-branched growing entity. It is a tree, in the evergreen sense of the word. It is a standing stalk, more like a grass that grows as tall as a tree.


And I couldn’t have this long series of thoughts about my love of the wild, the tree, and the places that these live in together without contemplating the power of bamboo.


To botanical taxonomy, bamboo is a group of woody perennial evergreen plants in the family of grasses, the Poaceae, member of the subfamily Bambusoideae, and the tribe Bambuseae. Some of its members are the tree-like giant timber bamboo, forming by far the largest members of the grass family — but grass, on an outlandish and anciently-defined, if not prehistoric, scale. Bamboo in groves, doesn’t feel like grass, but a forest of other plants. Ancient plants.

If one thinks of trees as woody natural forms that transport nutrient fluids up from the roots (rhizomes or otherwise) into a leafy photosynthetic system for life sustenance, then bamboo fits into the tree category.


Bamboo is very special; it is the fastest-growing, wood-stalked plant in the world. Imagine a plant that you can watch grow, at more than six inches per day. And perhaps you have seen bamboo that was one height one day — and the next, it is standing taller than you, your original sighting. I’ve seen both.

And when it comes out, the burgeoning growth — the opening “shoots” of bamboo are bizarre, extra-terrestrial forms of tendrils; they pierce outwardly, coming up through the earth, in ground that the plants have wholly changed, converting the chemistry of the landscape comfortably to get their measured nutrient and ecosystem.


Working in a bamboo grove, I’ve heard the bamboo creeping and crackling, alive, out of the soil. I’ve stood in the green shadows of the forested grove, and watched it move — slow in the heat.


Or during a wind or raining thunderstorm, I’ve heard it clacking and groaning, like a mysterious collection of ghosts, smacking and cracking the stalks like demon drummers. And if you’ve been in a gale, in a bamboo forest, you know it’s something unforgettably sensate — the thoroughness of the captivation.


The scent, the swirling leaves, the sound clattering, the raspy smooth touch of the wavering trunks, even the taste of bamboo, that can be in the air. The experience is whole.

But that comes from time — and enthrallment — in bamboo. From jungles in Costa Rica, to Cambodian snake-filled swamps; Yogjakarta temple compounds to…


and Moroccan YSL-memorial tenderness, to royal groves in Hawai’i; from mountainous, wintering bamboo, in the chilled, ice-bound groves of Ni’igata and Hokkaido, Japan, to the harvested forests on Java.


Loving the space of trees, the wild ones — softening sea-born pine warrens, hiking vales of cedar, quaking aspens, millennial redwoods, climbing giants, painting gnarled wonders, silkscreening plastic panels, researching the tree at the end of the world — that tree which lies in the center of things — and journaling experiences, bamboo forest collections — in, and among, these places, it’s been a journey.

Here are the sequences, in case you missed one:
1. The tree prints | 1979
2. Tree climbing
3. Treehouses
4. Drawing trees
5. The Oldest Souls in the world
6. Being in the place of trees
7. The Tree of the World
8. A Love of Wild Trees (others)
9. The tree of my dreams

Ending the year, winter bound, the Northwest…

tsg | pike place market
Culture & heritage: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2004/04/13/stories/2004041300110900.htm

Japan: http://www.snowjapan.com/e/features/niseko-magic-8.html
Science: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T6X-4M7CMF9-2&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=22e3b4bc5956f18153555b161e806cff
Imagery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23140499@N07/3133322440/