February 7, 2009

The white tree — late night version.

White tree

It's dark now. The warm day is over. Time to pour a glass and sit here silently. Or talk to me.


I'm A Feline said...

After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Simon said...

We had a meeting today with the local Catholic high school to try and get the son admitted for next year (as opposed to a secular private school or the public high school). Apparently, one of the things they have to do in their senior year is to write a brief explaining why Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided - now that's not something they'd ever do in another school!

George M. Spencer said...

Cat was woozed on merlot when he wrote this....

"And when we consider that other theory of the natural philosophers, that all other earthly hues- every stately or lovely emblazoning- the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtile deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within; and when we proceed further, and consider that the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues, the great principle of light, for ever remains white or colorless in itself, and if operating without medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge—pondering all this, the palsied universe lies before us a leper; and like wilful travellers in Lapland, who refuse to wear colored and coloring glasses upon their eyes, so the wretched infidel gazes himself blind at the monumental white shroud that wraps all the prospect around him."

Got some serious punctuation happening in that sentence.

Anonymous said...

I have a tree like that not far from me. I'll take a photo of it tomorrow.

I don't mean to brag but it's a known fact of silviculture that Pennsylvania trees > Wisconsin trees.

Same with college and pro sports teams. And don't get me started on cheese.

Palladian said...

That tree goes exquisitely with the dram of Ardbeg in my hand.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

The road that led to Treegap had been trod out long before by a herd of cows who were, to say the least, relaxed. It wandered along in curves and easy angles, swayed off and up in a pleasant tangent to the top of a small hill, ambled down again between fringes of bee-hung clover, and then cut sidewise across a meadow. Here its edges blurred. It widened and seemed to pause, suggesting tranquil bovine picnics: slow chewing and thoughtful contemplation of the infinite. And then it went on again and came at last to the wood.*

We went to Orlando today and got coffee and scones at Panera Bread (redundant name?) and sat outside admiring the balmy weather and the palm trees. Been in Florida for a year and a half now and they still look cool and exotic to me.

*Name the book?

Ken Stalter said...

Taos is open to snowboarders this season but that doesn't mean it's friendly to them.

Anonymous said...

Pennsylvania trees > Wisconsin trees

Indiana sycamores pwn all.

Ann Althouse said...

@Laura "Tuck Everlasting"!

@Palladian I have Cragganmore. I miss you!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

OMG I hope you didn't fall over on your back taking the photo. Kidding. I would hate to think of you on your back in the slush snapping a photos.


Beautiful picture. The waning sun....oblique rays make all the difference between an ordinary and extraordinary shot.

Pastafarian said...

Althouse, Palladian -- I've never tried those. How do they compare to the Glenlivet or the Macallan?

In light of recent political events (the Spendulus), I might have to take up recreational drinking with a bit more seriousness.

Of course, I'm not sure how I'll afford large amounts of single-malt in our hopenchangey new world; maybe we should be discussing El Toro tequila versus Popov vodka.

Great photo, by the way.

RLB_IV said...

Cragganmore single malt 20yr Cask Strength ??????? Mrs.Althouse, you are most fortunate!

Ann Althouse said...

No, my bottle is only 12 years old. But if the good Cragganmore people would like to send me some 20-year-old Scotch, I would be happy to receive it.

Donna B. said...

Yesterday I got my first urge to dig in the dirt and think about planting something. That urge is a few weeks late this year.

I also checked the spots where perennials might be showing some signs of coming up again this year, my Gerbera daisies, hostas, Asian lilies, banana trees, and begonias.

The azaleas and gardenias are looking healthy, as is the wild rose.

The oak trees are finally completely bare of leaves and the pine trees bare of brown needles. It's time for final cleanup. Final for a few weeks, at least.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Tuck Everlasting, yes.

Some of the books I have enjoyed greatly have been books that my daughter was assigned and that I read too. I don't think they had cool books like this back when I was in school.

I just emailed her: "Publius Quinctilius Varus, where are my eagles?" with a note that the 2000th anniversary of the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest is coming up this September. (thanks to Jeff at Quid plura? for the heads-up.) She responded: "you realize we are gigantic nerds, right?"

The Dude said...

Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) are great trees and produce great wood. I really like working with it - some call it American lace wood due to the prominent medullary rays. I also like the trees - they are the first tree I learned to identify as a child, riding down the road in my father's car.

They have figured prominently in American history and you can see wonderfully shaped sycamores all over - many are hollow and have great trunk shapes. Remarkable trees, all around.

blogging cockroach said...

hi professor
i think you should ask sir archy to see if he can get you some of that 300 year old cragganmore from the scotch astral plane

Ann Althouse said...

300... ah... yeah...

Palladian said...

"hi professor
i think you should ask sir archy to see if he can get you some of that 300 year old cragganmore from the scotch astral plane"

No such thing, I'm afraid. Cragganmore wasn't built until the 1860s.

Ann Althouse said...

Well, then, Cragganmore -- do you hear me? -- send me some Cragganmore from 1860!

Fred4Pres said...

Here is an old tree whose fruit appears unpalitable at first glance, but remains sweet and wholesome

In these dark times we need to go back to this.

Anonymous said...

Yes, sycamore was one of the woods traditionally used for high class drawer sides, because of its stability, handsome appearance, and because it's possible to cut clean dovetails in it. If you see old, dovetailed drawer sides that look a bit like maple, but with a brownish wide figure, that's sycamore.

The species is also known as the Plane tree in Britain, and is usually known as London Plane. It was occasionally used for wind instruments in 16th and 17th centuries, as a substitute for Carpathian maple or pear or other similar fruit wood. I know, because the task of making about a gazillion cheap wooden Renaissance-style soprano recorders once fell to me, and the wood that was chosen was the "original" Plane wood. I think the stuff was better in the 16th century.

Professor, if you need a cure for insomnia, all us crafts types can supply it by the board foot.

RLB_IV said...

Cragganmore 12 is quite good...nice finish. Have you tried any Bowmore single malt from the isle of Islay?
Bowmore 15 is aged in old sherry casks... it has toffee flavors and warm sherry finish. I bought a bottle for my brother as a stocking stuffer for Christmas. I tried to find a bottle of Bowmore 18, here in San Diego, but everyone was sold out.
Alas, last year I shopped at the last minute. Bowmore 18 is aged in oak casks, different finish.

Ann Althouse said...

@ RLB_IV I wish I were more sensitive to these details. I choose what seems good based on the descriptions in my trusted store, but I don't think much about what I don't buy, and I don't think wishfully about things I'm not getting.

Palladian said...

"@Palladian I have Cragganmore. I miss you!"

Cragganmore 12 is good stuff. It's the only Cragganmore I've ever had. When are you coming to New York again for a visit?

"Althouse, Palladian -- I've never tried those. How do they compare to the Glenlivet or the Macallan?"

Depends on which Glenlivet and Macallan you're talking about. Ardbeg is from Islay, so it's very different than any other non-Islay Scotch. It's peaty, smoky, full of brine and iodine and ocean water notes and a ghostly, pervasive sweetness. One of the best Scotches on earth, along with its Islay neighbors Laphroaig and Lagavulin. If you like the honeyed, medium-bodied mellowness of some Speyside whiskies (like Glenlivet and Macallan), you might not like the Islay style.

Cragganmore is another Speyside, a rather gentle and floral middle-bodied malt with a bit of smoke on the finish. If you like the younger Glenlivets you'll probably like Cragganmore even better.

If (like me) you want a mouth full of burning peat and iodine and seaweed, you'll try the Islay malts.

There's also quite a difference in alcohol content. Cragganmore 12 year is bottled at 40% alcohol, while Ardbeg 10 is bottled at 46% alcohol.

Ann Althouse said...

@Theo I love these details. To think we can partake in such complexities merely by drinking.

Ron said...

Well...what are we drinking then?

Chip Ahoy said...

Two random photos from where I sat fiddling with camera settings.

Clicken sie für grösse und extremes detail.

ugly stork vase

bas relief carving wut I dun

Daylight: overcast
ISO: 1,000
shutter speed: 00.00

Anonymous said...

Well, to help you relax, along with your excellent Scotch, here're more soporific details:

Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) was the wood of choice for European woodwinds since antiquity, and is still unbeatable for its warm tone. But, because it is rare and somewhat unstable so that instruments made of it shed modern keywork, woodwinds these days are almost universally made of so-called Grenadilla or African Blackwood (Dahlbergia melanoxylon). This is a much more stable wood, yielding a more brilliant tone, but lacking the warmth of the old boxwood instruments of the early 19th century and before.

Maple is still used for modern bassoons, but it, and species such as Plane and various fruitwoods, such as plum and pear wood, were used in varying degrees for woodwind instruments in the 16th, 17th, and, to a limited extent, the 18th centuries.

There, are you getting sleepy yet?

Palladian said...

I got idea man
You take me for a walk
Under the sycamore trees

The dark trees that blow, baby
In the dark trees that blow.

And I'll see you
And you'll see me
And I'll see you in the branches that blow
In the breeze,
I'll see you in the trees
Under the sycamore trees...

RLB_IV said...

Mrs. Althouse, you have a great sense of humor! I'm trying to BBQ chicken Breasts ( breasts, a notable topic on your blog) so I'm in and out of the house. Please be patent with me... besides I'm hungry.

blogging cockroach said...

well professor it was just a suggestion
maybe sir archy could come up with
something 300 years old but not being
an expert in scotch distilleries
you ll have to ask him
but whatever you do
don t watch old twin peaks episodes
and drink scotch because i think you ll
have nightmares unless your other
commenters have put you to sleep
by now and i m not at all sure about iodine
and peat in my drinks at least if you re human
cause i m getting enough of stuff that tastes
like that in the water under the fridge

Anonymous said...

"Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler than economic self-interest?

M. Friedman

Thanks, Fred4Pres

RLB_IV said...

after dinner there will be joe and pie...

BJM said...

"Ewglu phln'slghn hngl'wi. Krha'gr br'clnuilha wgah'rly'ueh v'glua n'gl."

blogging cockroach said...

you know some nights you just want to
talk about trees drawer sides twin peaks
scotch whisky chicken and other breasts
tuck everlasting moby dick garden plants
joe and pie etc etc
and not even t h i n k about anything else
unless you want to throw in ships and sails
and sealing wax and maybe an oyster

blake said...

Lovely picture.

For those inclined to Google, BJM's quote is dubiously attributed to Cthulhu: "Chicks dig the tentacles. That's why I keep 'em where they can see 'em."

KLDAVIS said...

I wish I still had the stomach for a scotch at this time of night, but my final drink of the evening was something called a Guyana Flip:
El Dorado 5yr, Tawny Port, Cynar, Whole Egg, Graded Nutmeg...certainly the best egg nog ever, but the whole egg is making me think any other drinks would be a bad idea. I will give due respect the Islay's but my favorite single malt is the Balvenie. The 21 year Port Wood is particularly fine.

Christy said...

Theo, tell us more about those boxwoods for woodwind instruments. I have 60-year-old boxwood hedges and the largest diameter of any stem is maybe an inch and they aren't straight. I have thicker English Ivy. Mine look just like the ones in the pics I googled. Were special boxwoods grown and pruned?

I cut wood and sharpened garden tools today. My thumbs and fingers are covered in band-aids.

Anonymous said...

Christy: Actually, the ornamental boxwood you have is a dwarf variety intended for hedges, topiary, etc. The wild boxwood in places such as Turkey, Spain, eastern France, parts of England, etc., is a small tree. It has been available as timber starting in the 70's, because it wasn't commercially cut since about 1900, and a lot grew back in the 20th century. Its main use in the late 19th century was for woodcuts. Thin, crosscut pieces were assembled in frames for engraving and printing, but modern high-volume printing and illustration methods put an end to that use.

Large amounts of the 20th century growth have been consumed by making reproduction instruments for the early music revival, so that now it is almost impossible to obtain commercially any longer.

Boxwood logs from European woods were commonly about 4-10" in diameter, much bigger than the ornamentals you're familiar with. If you count rings, 60-80 years was usually enough to get a trunk to a merchantable 6-8" size. As a minor aside, I have encountered boxwood logs from eastern France with shrapnel in them, souvenirs of the Ardennes.

Aside from such weird flaws, the principal difficulty in preparing boxwood for use is the fact that the fresh-cut timber gets shot through with blue-black streaks from a fungus that grows in the wood if the moisture content is too high and the temperature rises above about 48-50° F. One method of getting fresh logs shipped from Europe involved crating them wrapped in wet burlap, and shipping them on deck during the late winter to keep the wood cool. You then had VERY little time to cut and dry the wood in cool conditions before the dread blue streaking occurred, ruining the baby-ass color of high quality boxwood. I've had logs get shot through with blue fungus streaks in 45 minutes if the temperature rose to 70° F., so you really had to work fast and know your stuff to cut turning squares out of the logs before they went bad.

After that, boxwood would dry fairly well with little checking and degrade compared to most other species of hardwoods. But you HAD to keep it cool.

A French boxwood dealer once explained to me that they put their logs and fresh-cut pieces "in ze cave, avec le vin" to keep them cool during the early drying phase, until the moisture contend dropped below the level that supports the fungus.

After the pieces have been stabilized by 2-3 years of air drying, it's possible to drill a rough bore to facilitate further drying/seasoning.

It's also possible to "hot log" boxwood, and turn and rough bore fresh cut pieces, and then kiln dry them quickly in a matter of days, before the fungus can get established. Both microwaves and vacuum kilns have been tried, with some success.

I could go on and on, but poor Althouse and the rest of the commenters no doubt have glazed-over eyes by now. I will only say that if anyone needs their wood stocks managed for woodwind instrument production, I'm your guy.

It's a weird what some people do for a living.

BJM said...

Yes, Blake, it's WWCD* humor found primarily on geek & gaming forums. Lovecraft is an acquired taste as is much of the genre. Once you embrace the tentacles they appear everywhere.

*she types, tongue firmly in cheek*

However Lovecraftian themes of forbidden knowledge, artificial intelligence, generational guilt, threatened civilization, scientific risks and Atheism are still roiling society, fueling fiction and legislation.

As a child with night terrors and a keen interest in mythology it was small leap from Tennyson and Poe to Lovecraft and Tolkien

The Kraken

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Well, that took an odd turn, didn't it?

*What Would Cthulhu Do?

Kev said...

Theo, that was fascinating information. I'm not sure I even covered the boxwood-vs.-grenadilla discussion in Woodwind Pedagogy class in grad school (for which I had to assemble a righteous collection of notecards).

And I have to ask--have you ever worked with saxophones, or just the truly "wooden" woodwinds?

blake said...

Oh, I recognized the writing if not the actual words. As I pointed out in an earlier thread, one of my rare books is "Lovecraft and Me".

But I no longer dream of tentacles; not since I visited unknown Kadath.

Kev said...

Althouse--as always, today's photographs are amazing!

(Incidentally, my beverage of choice a bit earlier was Shiner 100, a special beer created in honor of the centennial of the famous little brewery from Texas founded by the wonderfully-named Kosmos Spoetzl. I hope they keep it around for a while.)

Donna B. said...

Theo, any work with stringed instruments?

We had a choice when my youngest daughter needed something other than the $150.00 beginner violin. We could pay $1500 for a fine new violin, or $1800 for a 17th C one. We went with the 17th C one based on the recommendation of our local symphony's violinists (4 of them tried the instrument).

However, it was the bow that cost us more than I would have expected. The wood, the strings, the shape... it was amazing what a difference the bows made even when used by accomplished violinists.

I learned more about wood in the six months of shopping for a violin than I had in a lifetime of being a timberman's daughter.

Christy said...

Way cool, Theo. Thanks for responding.

Donna B. said...

"...i m not at all sure about iodine
and peat in my drinks at least if you re human
cause i m getting enough of stuff that tastes
like that in the water under the fridge" -- blogging cockroach

a fridge over stagnant water
sail on silverfish
sail on by
if you need a friend
i'm here right underneath
like a fridge over stagnant water
i will ease your mind

Kirk Parker said...


"I could go on and on, but poor Althouse and the rest of the commenters no doubt have glazed-over eyes by now."

Heavens, no! It's fascinating (says this old clarinet player.) I do wonder, though, how many people (if any) could really tell the difference between the sound of equally-well-made Boxwood vs Grenadilla clarinets in a double-blind study? Would such a thing even be possible (i.e. never having had the pleasure of touching a boxwood instrument, I don't know if the feel of the surface when finished would be indistinguishable to the player or not.)

BJM said...

Blake, one would think that The Dream Quest is ripe for a movie, not just a painfully awkward animated feature, what with Lovecraft's legion of online fans.

Another book long overdue for a movie treatment is Burroughs "A Princess of Mars" now titled "John Carter of Mars" is in pre-production and casting with Andrew Stanton (Wall-e) directing at Pixar for a 2012 release.

Pity the Robert Rodriguez and Frank Franzetta collaboration at Universal didn't work out.

blake said...

As legion as his fans may be, the budget would not likely be small. So there's the whole measuring the legion vs. the cost in some concrete way.

There's not much interest in the weird these days.

Yeah, the Stanton production of Burroughs we talked about here the other day. Should be good.

As for Frazetta + Rodriguez, it wouldn't be the first time we had a Frazetta collaboration. Anyone remember Fire and Ice?

Hector Owen said...

Say the right thing to these people, something might happen. Something eerie, eldritch, maybe even squamous.

blake said...

I know of those guys. Their Cthulhu movie--cleverly shot as a silent b/w--looks campy from the trailers. Still, for $50K....

Revenant said...

Blake, one would think that The Dream Quest is ripe for a movie, not just a painfully awkward animated feature, what with Lovecraft's legion of online fans.

If by "painfully awkward animated feature" you're referring to the film by Guerilla Productions, that wasn't really animated as such. A guy named Jason Thompson self-published a Dreamquest comic back in the mid-90s; Guerilla filmed panels from the comic and added dialogue.

I thought the comic did an excellent job of capturing the story.

Anonymous said...

I have an old camera, a 2.2 megapixel Kodak. I need to get a better one with a fish eye lens for these kinds of shots.

Southern Pennsylvania tree.