This Month, it’s All About Trees

There is nothing like a deadline to inspire a burst of creative energy! My newest book (co-written with my daughter, Dani) has just come out and we are busy planning a cool book launch, hopefully in partnership with the kids at Shoreline School (stay tuned – more on that as the plans come together).

New book!! It was cool to work on a project like this with daughter, Dani...

New book!! It was cool to work on a project like this with daughter, Dani…More info here

Meanwhile, though, the next book (also in the Footprints series) is well underway. The subject of the book is trees, which means I’ve been driving friends and family mad recently by babbling on and on and on about baobabs and canopy scientists, corduroy roads and carbon sinks. In some kind of self-defense move, Dad piped up the other day and told me he was doing a tree-a-day drawing challenge. “Remember how you used to do that blog a day thing?” he asked pointedly. “Like that.”

Okay, okay – it has been BUSY around here this summer, too busy, apparently, for me to sit at the computer and blog on a regular basis. Well, at all, in fact. But here we are with the seasons shifting once again. The evenings are longer and there is hope that I can find some inside time to get to projects like the blog.

Trees herald the change of seasons with such... intensity!

Trees herald the change of seasons with such… intensity!

Given that I am obsessing about trees anyway, Dad suggested I write a little something about the trees he is capturing on paper. Which seemed like an excellent idea until I saw that his first subject was a Garry Oak. “They are so gnarly – all those twisty branches,” Dad explained when I asked why he had picked the Garry Oak as his first subject for the series.

Garry Oak Trees by E. Colin Williams (drawing)Garry Oak Trees by E. Colin Williams (drawing)

To an artist I guess twisty and gnarly equals interesting and challenging to draw, but I must confess that Garry Oaks are some of my least favourite trees! (Sorry, sorry to the Garry Oak lovers out there – and, no – it absolutely was not I who poisoned Margaret’s lovely old tree – THAT tree is special… and, yes – there are maniacs out there who go about drilling holes into the roots of gnarly old trees all the better to inject them with tree-murdering toxins! Note to self: subject for a future post…silvacide.)

Garry Oak ecosystems are fragile and rare, so much so that there are armies of volunteers out there who are working diligently to preserve the trees and their immediate surroundings [for more information on this work, visit this website and have a look at the amazing resources they have made available]. Garry Oaks (Oregon White Oaks) live in western North America close to the Pacific Ocean. Their range is limited and threatened by urban and agricultural development and linked to a whole community of native species threatened by all manner of invasive species like Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry. Given my propensity for cheering for the underdog, it’s a bit surprising I don’t know more about them. Hm. I sense a shift in attitude is already in progress…

What about you? Do you have a favourite kind of tree? A least favourite? What is it about some trees that makes them so appealing? Or, unappealing as the case may be…


10 responses to “This Month, it’s All About Trees

  1. Good to see you back! Sounds like you’ve been busy enough to justify a blogging hiatus.

    Favorite tree? Not sure I have one. Lately I’ve felt a little romance with cottonwoods. Their size is Colossal, and their constitution is perfectly suited for Iowa.


    • It’s good to be back!! I’ve thought of my favourite bloggers (you and Jim being among them) many times over the summer – it will be great to have a bit of time to hang out here again and see what everyone is up to!

      Cottonwoods – lovely trees! When they drop their seeds in the spring it looks like it’s snowing – a bit disconcerting and not great for the allergies! We have quite a few of them around here, too…


  2. I am glad to see you back. We pondered the other day ‘Where is she?’ You hhave been busy. Very understandable.

    Your dad does really good drawings. I wish I could do that. My art skills were honed on the chalkboards of schools. I can draw some of the best stick-people doing physics things that you have ever seen.

    As to favorite trees…I like big broad oaks like Christopher Robin has near him.


    • LOL! I can just imaging your stick figures throwing canon balls off turrets – “If the height of the tower is such and such, how long will it take the canon ball to crush this invading knight?”

      I know what you mean, though – I’ve seen Dad draw a lot of things over the years and it still amazes me how he can capture the 3-D world on a sheet of paper. It’s a skill I lack entirely!

      Thanks for reminding me about Christopher Robin!! He (and his tree) need to go into my book somewhere! I’ve already included a reference to My Side of the Mountain (Sam Gribley in that one makes his wilderness home in a hollowed out tree…) but am now on the hunt for a couple of other children’s book references that I might be able to squeeze in…


      • There is a neat little tree in P.D. Eastman’s ‘Are You My Mother?’. I don’t think it can be ID’d, too generic. But, the book is great.

        Eastman also wrote ‘Go Dog Go’. It has a huge dog party in the top of a tree at the end.

        Both books are favorites.


  3. Your Dad’s drawing of the Garry Oak is beautiful. My favourite tree lately is the Autumn Blaze Maple. Full of brilliant and intense red leaves in autumn much like the one pictured in your blog. Tall, elegant and regal. How I would like to be in my next life! 🙂


    • Thank you for your kind words about Dad’s drawing – I’m very curious to see what he’s going to come up with in this series!

      You are so right about the maples at this time of year – the colours are incredible!! Maples are some of my favourite trees, too –


  4. Congrats on the new book! Looks like an interesting one. It’s quite an interesting series Orca is doing, actually, I’ve been impressed with the topics so far. I too really like the drawing of the Garry Oak your Dad provided. My favourite tree? The big leaf maple that abounds hereabouts, well, more up-Island I suppose, but you know – there is a special one in my childhood memories that I climbed pretty much daily for a few years. Interesting factoid about trees – in New Zealand I noticed huge swaths of red forest, and asked if they too were having trouble with the spruce bud worm, and the answer is no, they’re spraying all the Douglas Fir forests, as they see the species as a nuisance tree, because it has adapted far too well to their climate, and has started crowding out native species, like their native beech. Ironically, they planted huge tracts of Douglas Fir 40/50 years ago for forestry.


    • Wow – that’s interesting about the Australian Douglas Fir issues. Just might add a factoid to the new book… thanks for that!

      Have you tried tapping your big leaf maples? We did some last year and will be tapping again soon – DELICIOUS!! Buckerfield’s carries all the supplies you need to get going…


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