Marcescent | Long-Clinging Leaves

seeing-trees-bookI love to read non-fiction and I love nature, so when I found this new book in the library, I was so excited.  It is called Seeing Trees – Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo. She is using “new eyes” to observe what is there in front of all of us and relating what she sees in a very entertaining fashion. The author’s enthusiasm for tree-watching is contagious and all I want to do is to run out into the woods and start discovering.

The photos are exceptional.  The photographer, Robert Llewellyn, has “mastered a new form of photography.  Using software developed for work with microscopes, he creates incredibly sharp images by stitching together eight to forty-five images of each subject, each shot at a different point of focus.”  They almost appear 3-D on the page with the white backgrounds.

Collecting leaves helps imprint leaf colors, textures, and shapes on our brains.  One game the author devised was to gather different colored leaves, while on a hike, and arrange them in her hand by color, like a hand of cards.  In her words:

“I arrange the leaves like a hand of cards, slipping a yellow tulip poplar leaf in here, moving an amber hickory leaf over in there, until I have a wide spectrum of leaf color.  In this collection, a dark maroon sweet gum leaf becomes as valuable as the ace of spaces, a blue leaf as exciting as a wild card.”

Beech Tree Near Creek at Sunset Bay, TNMarcescent Leaves

Early in the book, she defined “marcescent” — the name for old leaves that stay on the trees until a strong wind or new spring leaves push them off.  This reminded me of an opera appreciation lecture series I attended 25 years ago where the theme was “recitative” – where a singer is allowed to adopt the rhythms of ordinary speech — resembling sung ordinary speech more than a formal musical composition.  To this day I remember that phrase.  I hope “marcescent” stays with me as long.

Check out a previous post that I wrote about our beech trees which I now know have  “marcescent” leaves.  Life is an adventure.