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Posts tagged ‘poetry’

Philosophy is forestry’s child

October 1, 2016

Gabriel Hemery

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted LifeThe Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

It’s just one week to go until my new book is released on Amazon. The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life is a sequel to Jean Giono’s 1954 classic masterpiece The Man Who Planted Trees and Grew Happiness.

In the Foreword I write:

“Giono’s aim was to popularise tree planting, and his allegorical story contrasted the benefits of environmental restoration with the futility and destructiveness of war. More than 60 years later we are following a path towards unprecedented environmental change, and perhaps even greater societal upheaval. At the same time, humanity is drifting ever-more distant from the natural world. Planting trees is now a popular social norm, but harvesting trees is more often associated with exploitation and destruction, even though good silviculture (forest management) is equally important in the care of our forests.”

I also include a short poem: ‘Philosophy is forestry’s child’:

Philosophy is forestry’s child

When a tree falls in a lonely forest, does it make a sound?
It rings in the labouring forester’s ear,
Yet resonates for all the human race
In nature, so much more profound.

Can we love a forest, yet fell a tree?
The forester sees beyond herself.
Harvesting one, breathes life into more;
More trees, more life, and a future for you and me.

Ask not which came first, the acorn or the oak.
We came as children of the forest;
First our wooden cradle, then our kindling for industry.
Instead think forward — trees will shelter us from ourselves.

Gabriel Hemery, September 2016
Oxford, England

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life - view on Amazon

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life – view on Amazon

Gabriel Hemery on Amazon

Read more and purchase on Amazon. Available now for pre-order.

Winter Ash Haiku

January 6, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Winter Ash Haiku

Afterlife tool and spoke
Winter ash gale bend and yield
Oak a merest nod

Gabriel Hemery

During the recent winter gales in England I was inspired to write a Haiku poem. The amazing flexibility of the ash Fraxinus excelsior tree means that its wood is widely used in tool handles, sporting goods such as hockey sticks, and in the spokes of wooden wheels. In this short film made amidst a woodland gale, an ash tree waves and yields by amazing degrees in the gusting wind. Nearby (just visible distant far left) a stoic English oak Quercus robur tree hardly moves.

Gabriel Hemery

The changing fortunes of the Red Kite

August 29, 2011

Gabriel Hemery

Red Kites

In the early 1990s, when I was a student at the University of Wales Aberystwyth, I used to visit the town dump. Not to scavenge because I was flat broke (well not quite) but because it was the best, and actually one of the few, places in the UK where it was still possible to see red kites in the wild.

Red Kites

I captured this photo of a captive Red Kite on a compact camera (Panasonic Lumix TZ8) during a falconry show in France. It took about 50 shots to capture the shot I wanted with another bird of prey flying in the background of this perching kite.

Red kites were once common throughout England and Wales; being one of the main scavengers in the streets of London. Even Shakespeare referred to London as “The city of kites and crows.” By the by the end of the 19th Century however they were driven to extinction in England by humans, while only a tiny population survived in the woodlands and valleys of Wales.

What are you thinking, my wild friend
As you claim supremacy of the summer sky?
What magic holds you there without a single flap
Of your gorgeous wings?

Who dressed you today wondrous one,
In a rust coloured waistcoat and a starched white shirt?
Your taloned wings outstretched, embrace the sky
You truly are God’s work.

Who are you nagging with that fishwife song?
They can hear you from Garreg Dan to Caban Coch.
Keep on calling my brave beloved, someone will come,
You cannot be the last Red Kite.

Written by Allen Williams

Between 1989 and 1994, red kites were imported from Spain and released into the Chilterns: a stunning protected landscape of rolling hills and beech woodlands only a few miles north of London. The introduction project was run by English Nature and the RSPB. The birds started breeding in the Chilterns woodlands in 1992 and the population has expanded massively to the surprise and delight of both naturalists and local people.  Today there are over 300 breeding pairs in the area. I frequently enjoy walking in the beech woodlands of the Chilterns where large gathering of red kites provide a spectacular display.

So successful has been the introduction that since 1999, chicks have been taken from the Chilterns and used to re-introduce the red kite to other parts of the UK including Scotland and various locations in England (The Midlands, Yorkshire, Newcastle). In January 2006, the first wild red kite for about 150 years was seen on the streets of London (read more). The reintroduction of the red kite must be one of the greatest conservation success stories of the 20th Century.

Gabriel Hemery

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Walnut: as intricate as an opium dream

May 6, 2011

Gabriel Hemery

Mottles and Motes, sunburst and fiddleback

“Walnut is without the question the most beautiful wood on earth, ranging from the colour of honey to the rich depth of chocolate-brown, often marked with smoky swirls and streaks of pigment from dark brown to black. The grain can be perfectly straight, elegantly swept, or a festival of waves, curls, mottles and motes, sunburst and fiddleback, as intricate as an opium dream.”

McIntosh 1995.

I have this rare piece of walnut veneer sourced from the walnut-fruit forests of Kyrgyzstan.  It illustrates perfectly the beautiful figure of walnut wood, and the wonderful quote above.

Gabriel Hemery

Biblical dendrology

April 22, 2011

Gabriel Hemery

bible trees

“The groves were God’s first temples.”
William Cullen Bryant, A Forest Hymn

Today is Good Friday and this weekend is Easter Sunday or Resurrection Day in the Christian world.  Trees feature strongly in Christianity, reflecting their social, spiritual and economical importance throughout history.  Some 37 tree species receive mention in the Bible (some of which are referenced – right).

Trees are very significant in the Old Testament. Perhaps no more so than in the ‘tree of life’:

… on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.… Revelation 22:1-3

In Genesis 6:14, to escape the impending flood God commanded Noah, “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; the meaning of gopher wood remains a mystery to modern scholars.

Dogwood flower

"And the blossoms shall be in the form of a cross. Two long petals and two short. And in the center of each petal there will be nail prints, Crown with rust and stained with red. And in the center of the flower will be a crown--of thorns. And all who pass and see the Dogwood tree. Will remember me." Anon.

Within the New Testament, trees continued to be of great significance.  Of the three gifts brought by the wise men to the infant Jesus, two were the product of trees: the tree resins (dried sap) of frankincense from Boswellia spp. and myrrh from Commiphora spp.  On the Sunday before his resurrection, Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people placed tree branches for him to walk on; a feast now celebrated as Palm Sunday.

Legend tells us that Jesus was crucified on a cross made from Dogwood, even though none of the 30 or more species of Dogwood grow large enough to produce suitable timbers for this purpose.  The discrepancy is explained in this delightful poem:

The Legend of the Dogwood

In Jesus’ time,
the dogwood grew
to a stately size
and a lovely hue.

‘Twas strong and firm
it’s branches interwoven,
for the cross of Christ
its timbers were chosen.

Seeing the distress
at this use of their wood
Christ made a promise
which still holds good:

“Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so.

Slender and twisted it shall be
with blossoms like the cross for all to see.

As blood stains the petals marked in brown,
the blossom’s center wears a thorny crown.

All who see it will remember Me
crucified on a cross
from the dogwood tree.

Cherished and protected,
this tree shall be.
A reminder to all of my agony.”

Gabriel Hemery

Rooks came home in scrambled sort

March 10, 2011

Gabriel Hemery

Rooks came home in scramble sort

Everyday, on my walking-commute to and from work, I pass under a spinney of ash trees supporting a rookery; causing the birds to scatter noisily.  I was rather pleased with this photo as three rooks appear as one, landing in step-by-step motion.  It reminded me of this poem by Ralph Hodgson:

“I climbed a hill as light fell short,
And rooks came home in scramble sort,
And filled the trees and flapped and fought
And sang themselves to sleep.”

Gabriel Hemery

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