Wednesday, December 28, 2005

In search of trees that please

Ever since I lived in Ravenswood during the great Asian long-horned beetle invasion, I've learned to treasure trees. You don't know what you've got until it's gone, and this certainly proved true when the city had to chop down thousands of trees because of that pesky little insect. Entire city blocks were suddenly made wide open, vacant, ugly.

I've just decided to set off on a search for the Greatest Tree of Chicago. Don't know what the criteria for the winner will be, but somehow the tree has to inspire awe. Here are the first two contenders:

Tree # 1 This monster of a tree lives, of all places, in the alley behind my building. Looking up every time I take out the trash, I see these branches reaching heavenward, grasping for something. Just look at the way it towers over the surrounding garages and utility poles. Simply spectacular.

In the Japanese religion of Shinto, believers see God (or a god) in every person, animal, and other life form. People try not to knock down trees when building their homes and businesses, and very old trees get propped up so that they don't topple over. This tree proves to me the possibility of a god.

Tree #2 I don't pretend to know anything at all about trees. (In fact, I don't pretend to know anything about anything, but that's never stopped me from having opinions.) So I don't know how many trees like this exist, or even what kind of tree this is, but this one really stands out on Bryn Mawr, next to the Lake Shore Drive on-ramp. Trees get all the press in the spring when they're budding and in the autumn for the changing of the colors, but I think there's something especially majestic about them in winter.

In photography, it's important to walk around your subject to find the best angle. This tree has a totally different personality depending on where you stand. It's the same tree, it hasn't changed, so that means that you, the observer, are the one that has become a little bit different with each viewing. In the span of a single minute, I see something completely different. I am someone completely different.

A few years back, I remember reading about a guy (or department?) in New York charged with counting every single tree in the city. I think that would be a pretty cool job, getting to personally know something about every single one of these living things.


Anonymous he said she said...

you damn tree hugger. Actually all are very cool pics. I think I like the tree in your alley the best.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

would you ever live anywhere besides chicago for more than say a couple of years or are you a die hard chicagian? if so, would you ever live in a suburb or does it still have to be a city?

3:31 PM  
Blogger ap said...

I'm not sure I understand the question. Is anonymous trying to offer me something? If the price is right, I'm sure I can be convinced to move to Evanston or Oak Park. Maybe some other burbs ...
If I ever move out of the country again, though, I would only live in a big city. If I leave Illinois, I wouldn't mind a small small town. But who knows. What do you have in mind?
-tree hugger

4:12 PM  
Anonymous adp said...

Andy is the Lorax, he speaks for the trees. And he takes very nice pictures of them.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothings going to get better. It's not. Dr. Seuss

6:01 PM  
Anonymous jenska said...

One of the things the most surprised me about Chicago when I came to visit the first few times was how green a city it is because of all the old, majestic trees. It quickly became one of my favorite things about the city once I moved here. Our first apartment here was on the 3rd floor, and our view was of the tops of the trees. It made me feel safe somehow, like they were guardians.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Molitor said...

I love the compliments on the trees. The tree I planted in Fifth Grade is still growing strong in my parent's old backyard.

On another note. Maybe next autumn people can show there love by helping me rake the leaves these beautiful trees drop. I can always use the help. Of course we won't rake them into the street like my neighbors do..those bastards.

4:22 PM  

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