Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’


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I was lucky enough to grow up on a big lake outside Battle Creek Michigan. Our house faced sunset and my dad and I enjoyed watching sunsets and changes in weather together.

One of the most beautiful things about living on Goguac Lake (an old Indian name), was the amazing tree cover. The whole area had beautiful tall, mature trees that had been there for a long, long, time. In the summer there when it was hot and steamy, as we drove up to the house the air temperature was at least ten degrees cooler up by the house, thanks to the trees. We were very aware of what a gift it was to live where we did under those big, beautiful trees.


Text and art by Kathy McCreedy, Michigan

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Artwork by Linda Bravata

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Handmade paper and artwork by Mason

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This poetry was submitted by Amy Oestreicher. Her courageous life’s story and connection to trees will be featured in a follow-up post.

by Amy Oestreicher

Whether I am the trespasser, alien
The outcast, the tortoise turned on its side
I can see the stream from here
And I long to dance with the source.

Can I fish for you, blue glimpse?
A glimpse of the word as it was intended to be?
The realism thrills me

In a world of
geometricshapes,painted signs,brightredautomobiles,

my hollow shell overflows with relief.
For I have now caught the world in coy disarray, in bashful asymmetry.
(I’m sorry I disturbed you – I had thought you were done changing)

But fair lilies in the stream, let me flatter you:

You are such unperturbed beauty; a beautiful mess
Some divine energy had a penchant for modern art.

This trail I stumble down begs to recount to me, pleads, “Can I tell you a story?”
Of What? What – some kind of archetypal tale to us with its paw prints, bird calls, freaks and daddy long legs crawling under rocks like blue crabs
Moist air
Shadowed filth
rocking trees comforting one another in this dark forest community.
Blue forest glimpse – you are my catch and my soul is your bait.
Here is my glimpse of the world as it was intended to be
Realism thrills me as the wind now thrills your branches.

In a world of perfect geometric shapes, of painted signs, of bright red automobiles…
I’ve wandered, lonely and seeking a friend, and I ask, can I belong?
I venture down and down further, and down.
I am a lone pebble, but unstranded, moving with the stream of wind that caresses the branches above me.

In each crumble, I breathe in the equalizing power of nature, of burgeoning love that transcends the limitations of being 5’3 when the trees are so tall.

The air sings and swells with a knowing comfort, a tune I have heard my whole life, as constant as the seasons

and now, I look up at the dense ceiling of trees and whisper, “Thanks.”
before even realizing that I had said it.

And now the dance begins! The dance that I can join too!
And the violins play, and there are brass, and winds, and chords, and reeds, and strings, and shrubs, pebbles, rocks, debris and slugs – sound and color and light!
Trees start to rock back and forth
dance with my awe,
They reply, “Yes.” Yes!

I am the lone pebble tymbling and tumbling, being shaped and molded by the ground beneath me, as it has beneath centiures and centures of lava and strata
And then I stop for I am stopped

A large oak tree firmly itself from the others.

I whispered to it, “Tree, sway for me…sway for me please…” it didn’t budge.

I’m lowered from my floating enchantment.

My soul-bait is anchored once again, as a fervent wind dodges
Corner to corner
Boomerang from trunk to trunk
Wind so dynamic it flickers like fire.

Wind so hasty it drenches flimsier trees with its own leaking madness.

All limbs of the forest shake madly now
All limbs of my body petrified with wonderment.

We are all shaking madly! dizzy and startled by the whippings of the delirious wind

Nature restores its internal pulse
The wind’s wrath quickly wearies
Smaller gusts
Internal pulsing
Even nature must sleep
Internal pulsing
prompts a limb of the stubborn oak tree to coyly bob up and down.
And the world was finally in sync.

I thank this forest sanctuary one more time before I leave.
I am a most welcome trespasser, and my shell is filled with burgeoning blue light

Goodnight, forest.

And all I could think about was how wonderful it would be to hold someone’s hand, staring at the trees together, in simultaneous awe, no words in our breath but all winds in our souls.

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The Center (http://www.thecenterpalos.org/) at Palos Park, IL hosted an Outdoor Women’s Retreat this summer. Tree stories were shared with some of the results below. Thank you Lois Lauer for sending these images.

women's reteat women's retreat 2 women's retreat 3

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I wanted to share an incredible project relating to trees entitled “Seasons Rewound”—and the artists who created it, Barbara Pankratz and Barbara Johnston, both from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

They described it as a book five feet tall with an open back page spread that is 7 feet across. They used paper called weed block that they were able to purchase in 25 feet rolls, 3 feet across. They built all the pages then drew, painted and cut. There are three layers, the background layer, the tree layer then a little layer in the front with seven openings. The covers are matt board covered with painted canvas.

They mentioned that they spent one day a week for three years working on it. As they said it really was all about the process—they were not really concerned about the end product and they both felt the book literally made itself.

It was a wonderful collaboration. In their words: “The natural world is at the heart of everything we both do creatively. This oversize book was our attempt to represent a deep emotional and sensory connection to the changing seasons and to communicate our “larger-than-life” enthusiasm for the stunning visual experience this constant cycle affords.”image001 image002 image003 image004

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At the Legacies II Conference in Dallas, Tom Burns kindly shared his contribution to the Treewhispers project. Beautiful! Thanks Tom!!! IMG_5613 2

IMG_5826Photo by Pamela Paulsrud

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I wanted to share the buzz at The Center in Palos Park, IL both in appreciation—and as inspiration to others, highlighting various ways of embracing the Treewhispers project. The Center has chosen opportunities to present papermaking, storytelling and guided walks. They are “growing their forest” of paper rounds having had instructions for stringing so that in the end it will be included in the upcoming installations and be consistent with the other “trees”. (Please contact me for these instructions and materials should you be interested in doing the same.) And so, with great excitement may I present the letter from Lois!
Hi Pam—We continue to enjoy the ongoing Treewhispers project at The Center. At the Little Art Show on May 25, we let folks make their own little 3″ circles of paper–they were so quick to dry with an iron that they could write and draw right away–and we strung them up—and called it our “sapling!”  Then this last weekend at our Outdoor Women’s Connecting With Nature Retreat we used pre-made handmade paper, but really enjoyed everyone drawing and writing on their disc.  The ladies were really into their memories of trees significant to their lives.  We strung them right on the spot, hung them from a tree branch, and had our closing circle ritual around our tree trunk of memories!  I really like this idea of a progressive forest being made as we progress through the summer.  I think by September, we will have a very impressive looking display to appreciate and then to send off to add to your collection.
Little art show photos attached.   Retreat photos to follow.

Lois Lauer
Program Director at The Center (http://www.thecenterpalos.org/)
12700 Southwest Highway, Palos Park, IL 60464 

Little Art Show sapling 2 Little art show

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Photo by Lois Lauer—from The Center in Palos Park, IL

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Photo by Lois Lauer/ The Center (http://www.thecenterpalos.org/)

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This Sunday, May 25, 1-3 p.m. at The Center in Palos Park, IL we are having a Little Art Show of tiny artworks and will give guests an opportunity to make tiny circles for the Treewhispers Project. You’re invited to join us!

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What an honor to spend Earth Day at The Center in Palos Park, a place “of celebration, enrichment, and healing—meeting others who shared a love for trees. Thank you to Lois Lauer for the invitation to introduce the Treewhispers project, to Marilyn VandenBout for her expertise in paper-making and to all those who so graciously shared their time and their stories. Stay tuned to see how you too can get involved with The Center’s partnership with Treewhispers.

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I wanted to honor my dad on this Earth Day—he planted so many trees—some say, whether you wanted them or not!

Thought I would share this artwork that I did for him on his birthday back in 1993. The quote, “He plants trees for another generation” is from Caecilius Statius, 220 B.C. The image is a hand-colored photo transfer of a tree belonging to my neighbors, Barb and Ed. If I remember right their son Matt brought the seeding home on Arbor Day. It was planted in their front yard and today it is a beautiful towering specimen. Makes me smile.




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The oldest trees in town
are now mostly gone
those that stood
in the hey-day of
the best of times

Grew with the first streets:
Oak street, Pine Street, Elmwood,
Maple town, Mapleton

They shaded the shiny promise
of bustling new businesses
when we sold three colors of tractors
and all the autos offered by Detroit

Willows lined the tortuous fairways
of the rich bottomland along the Maple River
trees aligned to foil the failed golf shot

Tall pines in the city park attended the
a perfect playground: branches
that would shelter our children in a safe haven.

Trees for ball parks, the swimming pool,
a Main Street with a bakery, a soda
fountain and a movie theater

Trees that stood watch over
our bastion of churches
where we learned of the next world
and gained faith in the good
to be found yet in this one

Red and yellow leaves in autumn
would swirl about your feet
as you walked with the ones you loved

In spring the tree planters would
kneel down again and mix the new roots
with the soil’s stuff of living and dead

With hope, love and a belief
that the trees–and this town–
would live forever.


—John Walter

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IMG_9064Photo by Pamela Paulsrud


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…is the first Lithuanian word I heard my two year old daughter say. She pointed to the small fir tree my father planted in the front yard that day. “What dat Pop-Pop?” “Eglé, Marija,” was his reply. Marija came to me, took me by the hand and brought me to see the fir tree. She fondly touched the tree with those small baby hands, gave it a kiss followed by a giggle, since it tickled her face and said with a radiant smile, “Eglé, Mommy!”
(a small fir tree, personified, through the eyes and imagination of a child).

pronounced egg-le

Contributed by B. Gudauskas, Philadelphia, PA

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IMG_5474Artwork by Rosie Kelly


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Another story told to and recorded by the Court Reporter


2 In 1996 I was — I was pregnant with a baby. And she

3 and I got sick. She passed after she as born. And

4 we moved shortly after to a new home. We had to

5 move. And in order to heal, I found myself trimming

6 underneath this huge evergreen tree that was in the

7 very front of our yard. It was very close to the

8 house. And in time, to recover, I was really sick

9 from it. It took about a year. And I stayed

10 underneath the tree. And just no one had ever

11 trimmed it, and it was just huge (indicating) and

12 tall. So I would just climb up and trim the dead

13 branches.

14 And then we moved from there, and eventually someone

15 bought that home. And then I saw that that tree was

16 up for an option for the Botanic Garden. They were

17 looking for a Christmas tree, and they had their eye

18 on three different trees in the area. And they ended

19 up choosing that tree. And so it was like in the

20 newspaper. They cut it down. It was very close to

21 the house. And so they brought it to the Botanic

22 Garden. And they put, like, 10,000 Italian lights

23 on. And it was the Christmas tree for that year

24 And I called up the woman who ran it, and I said



1 that’s a really special tree to me. And I told her

2 my daughter’s name, Zahava, and she called it

3 Zahava’s tree. And we visited, and we took a

4 picture.

5 Then many many years later, as I was working with an

6 intuitive, clearing different things, she said to me,

7 “Well, I know that you are Jewish, but there’s this

8 Christmas tree, an evergreen tree, crumpled in your

9 spine, energetically speaking.” And she said, “Does

10 that make any sense?” And I said, “Yes, it makes a

11 lot of sense.” So, I told her what my connection was

12 to that, and we cleared the tree, the tree — all the

13 gifts the tree had given to me, and its connection to

14 that event and to that time together that we spent

15 together.

16 There’s more to the story, but basically — I mean, I

17 have poems about it and writings about it. But

18 basically that’s one of the stories of being

19 connected to the tree, and that it says in you, you

20 know, you don’t go far. They don’t go far.

21 Oh, I know what the connection is. Then there was

22 Yom Kippur coming up, and Day of Atonement. And I

23 went to a river, and I played the flute, and I think

24 I tossed some kind of prayer. It landed on a leaf on



1 the river, and it floated down. And then I went to

2 the person’s house where this tree was. And I

3 knocked on the door. And I said I need to just

4 connect, make a connection with the place where this

5 tree had been. You see that dip in your — you know.

6 She said yes. They were the same couple that donated

7 the tree. And I went to that spot. I think I

8 brought flowers and I brought water, and I played the

9 flute just to make our connection with the leaf full

10 circle. That was it. That was the story for me.


Contributed by Leslie Schechtman

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When I was eight or so I knew a spectacular tree. It green in a large open field where multi acre lots all converged. No one seemed to own it. I loved this tree the most on windy days, where high in its branches I could move in unison with its dance to the wind. Sitting way at the top, it was as if the rest of the world melted away and all that existed was unlimited blue sky in which to dream.

Contributed by Barbara Palmer

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