05 February 2011

Why Trees?

Green and Gold (Black Forest)
Anyone tracking my photography for any length of time will have noticed an abundance — over-abundance, according to some tastes — of trees. I admit it... My name is Yash, and I’m an arboholic.

I’ve often wondered what lies at the root of this fascination. If I think back, which I’m doing now, I realize that trees have had a special hold on my imagination since I was a kid. It might come from Disney’s film of The Swiss Family Robinson, about which I remember only the ostrich race and that fabulous, magical tree house. Also, when I was around 10, we went to Disneyland. The only memory from the trip that doesn’t come from old, discolored photos is, again, the Swiss Family Robinson tree house, which brought the magic achingly alive for me and probably set the hook in my cheek forever. (You can imagine how the Avatar film turned me into a kid again...and again with the ache of longing.)

January Sunrise (Killesberg Park Stuttgart)
A few stabs at describing my reaction to trees:

  • When you actually hug a tree (maybe “hold” is a less charged word), it can produce a visceral shock of awareness. This thing is not just a hunk of cellulose, but alive with startling solidity and unexpected vitality. Looking up, you see it sway, while at the same time you feel like it’s connecting you directly to the core of the planet. I recognize you probably have to be predisposed to get this reaction from hugging cellulose — and I feel sad for those who aren’t.
Forest Fogset
  • When you climb a tree, or get a peek past a leafy exterior, or just stare up along the trunk of a living tree during the summer for a while, you realize the tree is its own little world, abuzz with bugs, birds, assorted mammals, and its own inexorable sappy flows and chemical processes. You — well, I — imagine myself transported into that world.
  • When I see or hear of trees being cut down, I feel a knife in my gut. That’s the best way I can describe it. The reason for the felling doesn’t matter. I know there are good and necessary reasons to cut a tree down, and of course I do like wood furniture. But my first, unanalyzed and uncontrollable response is a pang of regret.

I’m no poet. But Robert Frost was:

The Sound of the Trees

Turning Seasons (Bärensee Stuttgart)
I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.


  1. Great photos! I especially love Forest Fogset. :)

  2. Hi Yash!!! I like all your tree photos! That first one is still one of my all time favs!

  3. Thanks! (Kelly, I actually thought of you when selecting that one for the blog.) :-)

  4. Nice to see a SCOTCH CRIBBAGE 2007 shot at the top of the blog!

  5. ...yes I remember you three climbing into the tree house at Disneyland....little did we know then!

  6. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has that reaction to trees. I think my son does as well.