I’ve been thinking about trees –

what is it about trees?

It occurs to me that they’re the homo sapiens of the plant world,

upright, branches outstretched, each one different from

the next one.  Certain trees are planted deep in my memory,

yes, two maples, two tulip trees, and one big blue spruce

shade the back yard in Syracuse. A white-blossomed dogwood that I

look down upon from a bedroom window, cabbage palmettos

at my grandparents’ house with Easter eggs hidden in the old leaf bases. Dark-leaved

Japanese maples, twisted and sinewy, gracefully sprawl on the hill at Greyston. The tall

oak where the racoon family lived, the huge copper beech at Wave Hill.

Sidewalk ginkgos in New York, the fragrant linden walk at Columbia University,

the half-prostrate old willow at Juanita Bay.

I’d like to write you a poem about the trees I’ve loved, but I can only

recite their agreed-upon names, their remembered locations. I can only tell you

they are rooted in my brain, and waiting for companions which

just now, thread their way through my synapses, these

trees of my new home:

madrone, cedar, poplar, fir,

perhaps, even































With apologies to visitors whose primary language isn’t English,  here are excepts from two online sources about the origin of the English word, “tree.”

tree (n.)
Old English treo, treow “tree” (also “timber, wood, beam, log, stake”), from Proto-Germanic *trewam (source also of Old Frisian tre, Old Saxon trio, Old Norse tre, Gothic triu “tree”), from PIE *drew-o-, suffixed variant form of root *deru- “be firm, solid, steadfast,” with specialized senses “wood, tree” and derivatives referring to objects made of wood….The widespread use of words originally meaning “oak” in the sense “tree” probably reflects the importance of the oak to ancient Indo-Europeans.



Etymology of tree:

The word tree derives from the the Greek word drys-drees (oak; δρυς) by changing D into T. During ancient times oak was the wood that was usually used.

From the same root:
Druid, duration, endure, durable


The Photos:

  1. A Madrone tree (Arbutus menziesii), also called arbutus or madrona. These striking trees have twisting branches and brightly colored, peeling bark. They’re native to the west coast, roughly from San Fransisco to Vancouver.  This one was injured long ago; it looks like a sapsucker tried his luck here. Bowman Bay, Deception Pass State Park, Fidalgo Island, Washington.
  2. More madrones lean into the light on the Lighthouse Point trail at Deception Pass State Park.
  3. Dead madrone branches can be as beautiful as live ones. Washington Park, Fidalgo Island, Washington.
  4. Even this downed giant, probably a Douglas fir, continues to support life on the beach at Bowman Bay.
  5. Along a trail at Whistle Lake, on Fidalgo Island, cedars and firs mix with a few moss-covered Bigleaf maple trees.
  6. A gracefully rooted Redcedar (Thuja plicata), its striated bark hosting a wash of pale green lichens, stands tall at Deception Pass State Park.
  7. At Bowman Bay, afternoon sunlight shines on several Saskatoon trees, creating complicated patterns of light and shade reminiscent of stained glass.
  8. A huge old Douglas fir at Heart Lake, on Fidalgo Island. The upturned, feathery branches of a Western hemlock growing directly behind it give the fir tree a celebratory air.
  9. A view through tall trees at Cranberry Lake, which, along with Heart lake and Whistle Lake, is part of the almost 2800 acres of forest lands preserved for recreational use on Fidalgo Island. Many of the trees seen here are Douglas firs. Some rusty orange leaves from Redcedar trees that are stressed because of drought can be seen on the left, along with bright green Bigleaf maple leaves and duller, pendant Douglas fir branches in the background.
  10. On a rocky, exposed bluff at Larrabee State Park, a Shore pine (Pinus contorta) holds a few green branches aloft. They may look fragile, but they must be very sturdy!
  11. Skagit Valley farms are punctuated by tall poplar trees that farmers have planted between fields. Some are very sizable specimens, like this one outside La Conner. In the background, more poplars are almost obscured by the haze of smoke from wildfires burning hundreds of miles away.
  12. Washed up into a rocky cove at Larrabee State Park, this log has been smoothed to a fine, regular pattern of tiny cracks. When you think about the long life of a tree, you may realize it goes through many, many stages, changing its appearance over and over again.
  13. An immense Douglas fir that somehow escaped logging graces the old road to Whistle lake, dwarfing the young woman running with her dog (note who carries the pack!).  As trees age, their bark develops deep furrows, not unlike our own wrinkles. The ancients are full of character.





  1. How I love the Madrone tree in the first picture, Lynn. Trees can have so much character. I love all the photos that show off the bark and the gnarly trunks, esp. 8, 11, 12, 13. And the Redcedar seems a force to be reckoned with. I love your poem, all the remembered trees winding their way through your synapses. What is the saskatoon you refer to at the end?


    • They really do have character, especially as they age and deal with injuries and challenges…a good lesson. 🙂 Thanks so much for complimenting the writing – you know it’s tough getting it right. Saskatoon is a name for a western tree, a small-leaved deciduous tree with spring flowers and berries the birds love. They’re sometimes made into a pie, I think, maybe in Canada. And it’s related to a tree you may know, Serviceberry.


  2. Lucky you to live near such marvellous trees! But it’s not just the motive, but the photographer as well. Yes, trees are our companions, big brothers (😃), and often small brothers to be taken care of these days. I just wonder why I think of them as males …


  3. Beautiful pictures! And a good question: what is it about the trees? So much we can find in them and somehow they seem to be personalities, friends! Every detail is beautiful like the barks you photographed. The big poplar tree is fantastic and the last picture – it really is a douglas fir tree??? Unbelievable! It rather looks like a redwood. It must be a good climate for such a big tree. And then the mood of the different woods. The stillness of coniferous woodland, the darkness of fir trees, the vividness of oak or bleachwoods. Interesting the origin of the word tree! Again you did not only show us your beautiful pictures but also served us good questions. I will go into a mental wood now and think about it 🙂


    • Yes, the last photo – Douglas firs (and other trees and plants) grow really, really well here, because there is so much rain, and if it freezes, it’s not for long at all, so they just keep growing, and growing. Thanks for reminding me about the different moods of different kinds of woods and forests. I’m glad you enjoyed the questions! Something to chew on. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mmmh 🙂 I do, thank you! Many plants must grow perfectly well in your area! These giant trees are so impressive and relate things (like the stars at the firmament…). When I am riding by bike through the streets or the wood here I often see my favourite trees and I am happy (as I am sad, when they are gone like last autumn, when we had strong storms and many trees were cut down). Your words seem to wake something familiar although these beautiful trees are mentally not so present to me as they are to you. How nice to remember so many good old friends!


    • I might have guessed you’d like the huge poplar (and I used a filter called cross-processing on that so the color is a little different) but I might not have guessed you’d like #7. On the other hand there’s a similarity to tropical light there, I think. Thanks Lisa!!


  4. You probably know by now that trees are my favorite subjects to photograph and I’m really enjoying these images you’ve posted. I especially like the last one, which looks a bit like an infrared shot. Fantastic!


    • I was thinking that about the last shot too, and I don’t know why it came out with that look – it’s those intensely lit sections of leaves that make it look like an ifrared, right? It was taken very quickly, to get the girl before she disappeared, so it’s not quite in focus, but….anyway, thanks Ken. Trees appear again and again in our lives and artwork. They are good aesthetic companions.


    • I can’t figure the turtle, but I’m glad you like it, and thanks for the compliment. 🙂 That log is overgrown with a plant I’m having a hard time identifying, a four-petaled little pale bluish flower on a succulent stem. Just can’t find it, but I will! 🙂 There’s a huge, sheer, rocky cliff face right behind there, set with charming little campanulas that are too high for anyone to pick. 🙂


  5. such beauty Lynn…I can feel them ☺️💫

    “Too many words cause exhaustion
    [In the mind or from the mouth]
    Better to abide in stillness”
    -Lao Tzu

    it feels like a meditation ~ smiles hedy


  6. Your words were pictures enough in sharing about your old friends and beloved trees from the past. As I slowly read and scrolled through the lines, I expected that there would be no photos…nothing but your words shedding their histories and emotions to reveal those old companions in our minds’ eyes as they would come to us..and that would have been fine for me, suitable, “bastante”….worded images, or images created by your words…and then the photos appeared under the scroll and I met your new friends…face to distant face, as it might be…and I thank you for presenting them, introducing us, or reacquainting us from previous meetings….

    Wonderful, Lynn.


    • From someone who appreciates words like you do, that’s good to hear. You’re right, i could have left it at that, without images, but you know me, I can’t help myself! Yes, these are the new friends, and there will be more I’m sure…thank you so much for your close attention, Scott. (And thanks for teaching me a new word….Spanish I see, and I suspect it’s a word that comes alive in context).


      • You are most welcome for the attention, Lynn…it’s difficult to not embrace such a compelling offering…and you’re welcome, too, for the word…a particular one that can provide so much in context….


  7. Another post showing your incredible sense of detail, Lynn. Incredible view of the diversity found within the trees of the Pacific Northwest. Your first and last photos are my favorite, a great contrast yet also complementary. Wish you a good weekend.


    • It’s funny you bring up diversity, because there are not many species, really, compared to many other parts of the world….but you’re right, there is diversity in other ways, that’s for sure. There seems to be so much character that develops as trees grow here. Thank you, Randall!


  8. I like your history-in-trees-verse very much. And wonderful photos, of course. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a madrone, it seems like a nice two-for-one, to have the nice reddish bark and then silvery wood. I like #11, a whole grove in one tree. And #12 has a nice patterned look, like embossed leather.
    There was a huge copper beech in this village, that we’d walk by, pretty much every day, the foliage had three seasonal color changes . One of my grandmothers admired it so much, she planted two in my parents’ backyard, so by the time I was old enough to climb trees, they were big enough. The huge old mulberry that was my favorite, and swings on it, split during a storm and had to be taken down, but definitely rooted in my memory, as you say.


    • I’m delighted to hear you liked the “history-in-trees” – actually, I have an autobiographical post I may finish someday, called “Unstill Life with Flowers.” 🙂 Madrones are amazing – more than two for one – the bark peels into amazing colors and the branches grow in beautifully curvy, sinewy shapes, and the leaves are deciduous looking but evergreen. The log in #12 is in a rough cove that’s affected by tides all the time. I think maybe the evenness of the bark patterns is due to all the water washing over it. Maybe!
      I like hearing about your copper beaches – i never see them out here. The one at Wave Hill had to come down, sadly. But like your mulberry, it lives on. Thanks Robert!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. An excellent post that encourages us to reflect on our own response to trees. ‘Trees I have known’ – not only their stature and shape but also their ‘personal’, private lives – scenes and events they have witnessed, thoughts they would like to have shared, secrets that have been shared with them.


    • It looks like you’re right – people are talking about their tree memories a bit – I bet you have quite a few. You’re relating to trees like they’re the homo sapiens of the plant world. 🙂 There are so many ways to go with trees, aren’t there? They really play an important part in our lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Gorgeous, Lynn. 6. and 12. are my favorites. We had a very large, healthy maple tree in our front yard in Indianapolis where I lived for a number of years. My father tapped it early on, and I have fond memories of the smell in the kitchen as he would reduce the sap over a low flame for hours on end. By all accounts, that tree is still there, decades later, and the owners still produce homemade syrup seasonally. 😉


    • You’re going for the spare look, with #12, and #6. I can relate, especially after a long day in the city with sensory overload. Wow, I don’t think I know anyone who was lucky enough to have sugar maple tapping going on around them as a child. What a cool memory.,..I wonder if that helped shape your love of and appreciation for food. I just learned about a simialr product that’s quite obscure: Bigleaf maple honey. Our Bigleaf maple blooms in early spring, when it’s very wet here, which discourages bees from flying. So most years there is no honey made from Bigleaf maple flowers, but once in a while there’s a dry, warm spell at the same time the flowers bloom, and the bees fly….and the honey is, well the closest thing might be like the complexity of a Grade B maple syrup. Amazing stuff! Nothing like any other honey I’ve tasted. Ah, trees and food. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Gorgeous, simply gorgeous, Lynn. Your poetry coupled with these magnificent tree shots makes for a wonderful post. I am just finishing a book, The Overstory, by Richard Powers. Do you know it? Beautifully written about people and their relationships to trees. Your image of the Red Cedar made me gasp and I love the Poplar and the final amazing dog walking shot by that Douglas Fir.


    • I’m so leased to hear your thoughts, Jane, thank you.And no, that book and author are new to me, so I’m going to check it out. Double thanks!!
      A pleasant surprise here is that there are still some very big trees left, even on the island. I don’t know how they missed them, but they did, happily! That last one is only about 15 minutes from home. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Ahhh, Lynn. You’ve outdone yourself. This is an amazing collection and I simply cannot choose a favorite… or perhaps the Madrones? But no, I’d simply look at the next and call it a favorite. You do so well in presenting the varied character of these marvelous beings. How nice to be meeting such lovely new companions.


    • I think you know all these friends, too, don’t you? I just realized one day that I have taken a lot of photos recently of trees, so I put it all together…but as you can imagine, there are more. Thanks for being here!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. A quibble with the second online etymology: it’s not correct to say that tree derives from ancient Greek δρυς. That’s like saying that you derive from your cousin. Rather English tree and Greek δρυς are cognates, meaning that both are descended from a common Indo-European ancestor. Another English word that descends from and reflects the ‘steadfast’ sense of the ancestral root is true. In this post you’ve stayed true to trees.


  14. There is indeed something very special about trees, just imagine those trees that have lived for as long as or long than our Common Era. And their uniqueness is so evident when we see them through your eyes and your camera lens. Beautiful images, Lynn.


  15. When I started thinking about the trees I’ve known and loved, the list grew long. But I thought of something you mentioned in passing: trees are not only themselves, they’re players in a multitude of dramas, too. I remember the tree the mama raccoon cllimbed three years in a row to bring her babies up for me to see; the tall pine the pet squirrel ran up and then required a human and a ladder to help him down; the historic oak our town spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on to save and move (still living!) and so on. The first fire tower in U.S. forests was a wooden platform in a pine tree; trees helping to save other trees.

    It’s no wonderful they’re so beautiful, both in themselves and in your photos. They leaf out with stories, again and again.


  16. I am obsessed with trees … a lover and hugger. Besides being beautiful to look at trees have a lot of symbolic meaning such as life, prosperity, strength. Number 6 is my favorite here … the lighting on the trunk is very effective.


  17. I could not live where there were not trees in abundance. I got a kick out your thought that they are the homo sapiens of plants, because I am reading a new book by David Quaamen, (sp?). In it he describes the use of the tree as an image~the Tree of Live from the Bible to naturalists and finally to the way Darwin envisioned evolution.


    • I see certain British landscapes on TV sometimes and wonder about the lack of trees, and think I wouldn’t be comfortable, beautiful as those places are. Thanks for telling me about that book – I don’t know the author and am checking him out now. Sounds so interesting. Horizontal gene transfer, wow. No wonder we feel deep kinship with certain plants or animals….. 🙂


  18. your new trees are beautiful too Lynn…and then the water 🤓 I think about how long trees grow and stayed rooted in the same place…I’m not sure I could be a tree…although they are looking all the time…smiles hedy ☺️💫🌳


    • Smiles back at ya! I like to be on the move too, but appreciate some other beings staying in one place, to give me a bearing on things, to keep me oriented. Make sense? I just made that up, thanks to the roads you sent me down…yes, they are looking all the time, and boy, your mind is active all the time….


  19. Some indigenous lore tells the trees’ stories of us: the two-legged trees.

    Thanks for sharing their stories, with such worthiness and love.


  20. I’m a little late. 😉 Number 1 could have been coldly documentary in any other photographer’s hands, but you’ve made this injured tree into an emotional experience, as a lovely study of color, contrast, and texture. I especially appreciate the areas of blur and sharpness. Number 6 is a definition of red cedar. So stately. Like a person with perfect posture. The dark foreground seems to add to the majesty of this tree. I love the feeling of being close to the beckoning edge in number 9. Another imposing tree, your number 11. I may never have seen so large a tree. I like the colors in this photograph. And while the wildfires may be a bad thing, the smoke adds a nice atmosphere to this photograph. Number 13 could be of a magic forest. The tones in the photograph are wonderful.


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