Tuesday, May 22, 2007

more postcards

I can't say who this is going to, it might spoil the fun.

This arrived in my mail box from one of the Swap-botters. Oh how happy this makes me. The writer put a cool quote from John Muir on the back. It had a San Fran postal cancellation, so it makes me think that she must live somewhere in the Mighty Bay Area.

Vindicating American Tree Knowledge

I was recently at a bar with a Russian (the bar was called the Mallard, but that is beside the point) and he was complaining about how "Americans don't know the names of trees." I of course disagreed, but then, driving down the sycamore-lined mean streets of Bear Town, it occurred to me that I wasn't 100% sure those were sycamores. Could he possibly be right? I wondered. We (as a nation) have Arbor Day, fer cryin' out loud, and Johnny Appleseed, Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, professional tree-sitters and Thoreau. This anonymous (local) woman who just sent this postcard to me, clearly loves trees and John Muir, and maybe she can't name those trees, but she appreciates them. We haven't quite gotten to the point of having a Tree Musuem (perish the thought), but, here in Flip, we have a grove where each blessed tree has a bronze plaque and a number. My mother knew the number of scrub oaks at our old northern Cal property. The Mountain People certainly know their native trees.

He could be right, there could be droves of tree-ignorant Americans out there, but I don't know any.

I only know a narrow sample of Americans, and I haven't quized any foreigners lately about their arboreal knowledge, so please help me out, oh sapient readers, what thinkest thou?


Catherine said...

I love your postcards. About sycamores - my husband and I had an argument about whether a tree in our garden was a sycamore or a maple, and when I looked it up I found that a sycamore is actually a type of maple - makes sense when you think about it.

Camille said...

Awright! A point for New Zealand!

John B. said...

Having grown up in Texas, I have trouble with conifers--actually, "trouble" is an understatement. I can tell the difference between pines, on the one hand, and firs and spruces on the other, but I can't distinguish among pines, and I have no idea what the difference is between/among firs and spruces. That's something of a big deal to me because I like conifers. But I'm pretty familiar with the tree native to the South, in Texas. and here in the central Plains.

My blogger friend (and an Englishman) Raminagrobis has a series of posts called "On Not Knowing the Names of Trees"; if you're curious, here is the first installment of that series.

Camille said...

I think you are ahead of me... I am pretty sure I could identify a Douglas Fir, but certainly not a spruce.

chiefbiscuit said...

You quoted Joni Mitchell!!! You are so cool!
I love trees and admit I am ignorant (to my shame) of the proper names of most. :(

Camille said...

Yes, I did, I wonder if I should have given her credit. That song is seriously overplayed in this state, and a bunch of popular musicians have covered it.

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