Still Learning To See

The bones of trees



I love winter for being able to see the “bones” of trees—their branches and shapes. Trees similar to the two old fencerow Sugar Maples shown above, one clearly much older, now declining and possibly the parent tree, can be seen at many a turn around the old farm fields of Central Vermont.


Every morning from my bed I look at two trees that have long stood next to each other, a Boxelder Maple and a Sugar Maple. Each is beautiful in its own right and together they are just lovely. I think of them as friends after all these years and often wonder what their conversation is with each other, for surely there is one.


The Sugar Maple, now about 50 years old, will burst into magnificent bloom in a couple of months. For now, I simply enjoy watching the branches slide back and forth in the wind.

On a recent gray morning, so common in March, the dark branches barely discernible from the sky, a male Cardinal landed, bringing with him his bit of red  just enough different from the darkness to be seen.


The Boxelder Maple, perhaps less well-organized but still having its own grace, is more brittle than the Sugar Maple and, as a result, trembles and quivers in the wind. The stems of the seeds still adorn nearly every branchlet.

Trees have their own shapes, both species and individuals, and they do reach out to the light and learn to live with their neighbors, big and small, different and similar. The branches of the Weeping Willow almost sketch the pattern of the wind.


This time of year the flower buds on the Silver Maples begin to swell noticeably, food for birds and, when the flowers open, for the bees.


Tamarack is recognizable all year-long but especially now, thick with cones and branches bare of needles.


The Black Locusts out the west window, which I’ve shared here often, are the perfect stage on which to watch the sun and moon setting or, even without them, to simply be enjoyed for the remarkable shapes of their curving branches and their salutation to the heavens.


I’ll gladly embrace all that comes with these last two months of winter for a few more opportunities to enjoy the bare bones of these trees.

This entry was published on March 9, 2018 at 10:50 am. It’s filed under John Snell, John Snell Photographer, Patterns, Trees, Vermont, Winter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “The bones of trees

  1. I enjoy seeing your part of Vermont through your eyes. And yes, ever since the last snow fall finally covered some of the naked earth down here in Connecticut the buds on the maples have been swelling. I even saw a red maple in blossom poor thing! it is snowing again now.

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