The true university these days is a collection of books.
-Thomas Carlyle

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Tree Wisdom by Jacqueline Memory Paterson

I bought this book with some book vouchers that I was given as a graduation present. I like to get a book that feels like a gift with vouchers. I love vouchers!
At the time, a few years ago, I still had my caravan on a farm in Wales but realised there were only some of the trees surrounding it that I could identify, even though I had spent 10 years living alongside them. The gaps in my knowledge prompted me to buy this book.
I already had a pocket tree guide, but wanted to know more, about how each trees personality has been perceived and what they have been and are used for. This was the perfect choice.
I read the book straight off at the time and I remember whole chunks of it still. About how you still find lots of Yew trees in graveyards because they were associated with the afterlife, and how the Apple tree is the tree of love in many cultures (if you cut an apple in half there is a heart shape inside).
I still dip into the book, to remind myself of something I've read, or to use it as reference. Each chapter is dedicated to a tree type that complies with the ancient Ogham alphabet and has information on identification and where it is usually found, as well as uses and legends.
I was picking Hawthorn flowers recently on the Organic farm that I work on in Devon, to be dried for use in skin and heart remedies, so the book was brought down again from the shelf to re-read the relevant chapter. I remembered Hawthorn was one of the trees that fascinated me the most and is said to be held high in the affections of those who love the countryside. It always likes to grow near people, and in England it is the staple of most of our hedgerows because it is not greedy with the soil, so other plants grow around it happily. It was called the bread and cheese tree, because in the past, when people travelled the countryside looking for work, they could stave off hunger by chewing on its leaves. It is also known as The May tree because this is the month that it flowers (see my recent May Roundup post) and for this reason was a fertility symbol too and used as decoration during weddings.
Anyway, this book has been a treasure to me for a few years now and anyone who has an interest in trees and their folklore will find it a valuable addition to their book shelves. The cover illustration is beautiful too, making this book a lovely gift.
Just for the record, my caravan was surronded by a huge Ash tree down by the lake, several Alder trees, a Sycamore, some Hazel trees (when the mice broke into and squatted in my van one winter, they used my oven glove as a cosy warm place to sleep and the evidence left was a stash of empty hazel nut shells...the critters), Hawthorn, Holly and a Rowan tree. I almost forgot about the Larch tree too. I hope they are all still there.


Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I have a love affair going on with trees and I'm not sure why. I just do. I love their majesty and their wisdom and steadfastness. I have a tree-identification book, as well, but I am very jealous of you owning this book!

Jeane said...

How interesting. I don't know much about trees, but would like to. In particular, I haven't even identified yet what all the kinds of trees are that grow around our yard!

Leah said...

Michele - thanks for leaving a comment, it is a great book, even just for reading.

Jeane - thanks for dropping by, I do recommend looking out for this book.

Kena Bunton said...

I found this book in a Charity shop and it is now one of my treasured possessions ! I recommend it to Tree Lovers and anyone intrigued by Witch-craft. It has helped me to re-connect with the Natural World . Thank you!

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