Maple Aesthetic Considerations
03, 2007 11:06 PST
In response to Ed's request, I submit the following as my rather
musings on the aesthetic appeal of Magic Maple.
Magic Maple, in
MTSF, is a red maple that grows in the northern
extreme of that state forest. Magic Maple tips the scales at a
respectable 8.1 feet in girth and 118.9 feet in height - as
this past Saturday by John Knuerr and myself. These are
statistics for a red maple throughout most of its geographical
but especially in the Northeast and Magic Maple's dimensions
define the species' best expression in MTSF. The tree is worthy
admiration as it co-exists with a host of other stately species.
However, it isn't Magic Maple's dimensions that so endear me to
particular tree. Other trees in Mohawk are larger and taller and
are quite handsome. I think it is that Magic Maple perfectly
into in physical time and space what artists seek to render on
and poets seek to express on paper as timeless expressions of
beauty. To my eye, Magic Maple is the quintessential expression
nature's creativity seen through an artistic lens. Let's take a
in Mohawk and meet Magic Maple.
Magic Maple grows in a small cove above Zoar Gap in the Hoosac
sub-range of the Berkshires. The inviting sound of rushing the
the Deerfield is our constant companion. As we leave River Road
Gap and walk part way up the steep side if Clark Mountain, we
domain of exceptionally tall trees. We reach a terrace that
ever steepening part of Clark Mountain head toward the northern
of MTSF. After a short walk, if we are looking in just the right
direction, Magic Maple appears at a distance as wonderfully
form. Her long lines and smooth curves carry our eyes upward
trunk and into her out-swept limbs. There is a pleasing flow to
her branches. The contours have the power to sooth us. If the
right, it can be almost mesmerizing. Magic Maple is located in a
that holds competing forms at bay. They are far enough away as
interfere with the space that she claims as her own - her
In looking at Magic Maple from a
sufficient distance as to preclude
easy species identification, it is as if she is taunting us.
species, she exhorts. Am I an ash or am I an elm? Her form
either. But as we approach more closely, her opposite branching
out elm, leaving us with the slight possibility of an ash, but
upward thrust of her many fine twigs say red maple. At an even
distance, her skin announces her formally as a red maple.
She has no broken limbs. There are no signs of
decay in her trunk.
The proportion of large branches, giving way to small, and then
twigging is by just the right ratios. Are we seeing arboreal
As we draw ever closer, she projects to us what must be near
perfection for her species. She challenges us to think of a more
form. We can't.
As we walk into the space beneath her outstretched limbs, Magic
exerts a magnetic pull. Come hug me she seems to be saying.
me and sense my gentle power. I am here to remind all who would
my species that we red maples are proud trees. We have a long
of service to all creatures. You humans once considered us your
You used our bodies to build your houses and your furniture.
call the indigenous people drank our sweet sap. You burned our
winter to keep your dwellings warm. You greeted our red buds and
flowers in the spring and you marveled at our autumn fire.
think ill of us now as you alter the landscape and introduce imbalances
that appeal to a part of our nature, a part that is not so
from your own.
Magic Maple is beautiful and beauty is part of aesthetics. She
one of the most scenic parts of the Berkshires, the Deerfield
Gorge, and that enhances her own appeal. She reinforces the
the surrounding area and the surrounding area reinforces her
might argue that she is almost too perfect. A blemish or two
her more ....more? Human-like? Equal acceptance of one's
imperfections? Perhaps, but that will occur all in time. Magic
will not always appear perfect. So let us fully enjoy the
present . For
now is Magic Maple's time.
I will conclude my ramblings with the following observation.
Maple exemplifies how two species (humans and trees) can
the best interests of each. The area where Magic Maple grows is
growth, but part of a past improvement cut by DCR's foresters.
the beneficiary of more growing space. However, Magic Maple
clearly that her species belongs in the woodlands of New
England. She is
a true native with still much to offer.
Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society
Magic Maple Aesthetic Considerations
03, 2007 13:02 PST
Bob, Excellent writing! You definitely have a Magical way with
almost felt as if I was standing there with you, looking up at
Majestic Red Maple!
Magic Maple Aesthetic Considerations
07, 2007 14:17 PST
I find your description of the Magic Maple both engaging and
Your description brings back to me vivid images of a tree that I
recently encountered; the large hemlock that Will and I recently
measured on Hurricane
Creek, and that I attempted to describe in
post of that area, seems to have many of the same properties:
is large relative to other individuals of the species in the
the crown is strikingly symmetrical, and the surrounding forest
structured just right to allow striking views of the tree.
typically none of those attributes by themselves identify a tree
exceptional. Symmetrical trees in yards or canopy gaps usually
to capture our attention, and trees that are large but not large
enough to challenge any records often only receive passing
me, it was the trees combination of size and symmetry, including
symmetry, with ample viewing opportunity that elicited ideas of
08, 2007 06:16 PST
I think another aspect of the attraction of
Magic Maple for me is
related to its species' underdog status among many resource
professionals, who see it as undesirable. Although red maple is
Island's state tree and many artists and poets love it, it has
bad name in recent years because of its aggressiveness in
areas that have been timbered, especially those that have been
graded of their commercially valuable species.