Time spent at the site oscillates between contemplative, observational, and social modes. I make every effort to visit the site at least once per week, and frequently spend time there shooting video, writing, observing, doing contemplative/meditation exercises, and documenting observations. Sometimes I do nothing at all for significant stretches of time, and just try to simply be in the forest and with the tree. Kate visits the site regularly too, and has created a thorough botanical survey of the area. We have installed a wildlife camera at the site and we regularly document visits by wildlife, as well as observing them in person when we can. The pictures below give a sense for some of our activities and observations at the site. It is hard to capture the meaning and richness that the site has taken on for us over these last three years. The tree and the visits to the site have been great teachers.
PERFORMANCE SCORE: TREE BREATHING
Part 1: at the tree
set a timer for five minutes
stand in front of the tree with both hands on it
breathe deeply and slowly, feeling your breath fill your whole body as you inhale (draw air in through the tree)
then feel your breath filling the volume of the tree as you exhale
inhale (receive) and exhale (give)
stop when timer ends
Part 2: at home
read about photosynthesis, respiration, and carbon sequestration
Increase your understanding of these processes
consider the carbon cycle and its role in climate crisis
Part 3: back at the tree
repeat part 1 with increased knowledge
Our subject, the Red oak, estimated to be 75-100 years old, measured at 85 feet tall and 24" diameter at 4. Pictured here in summer 2019.
The site itself is a typical patch of second-growth New England forest, and includes red oak, white pine, hemlock, black cherry, american beech, red maple, yellow, grey, black and white birches, white ash, striped maple, and a number of other trees, in addition to a rich diversity of understory plants and shrubs. Naturalist Kate Wellspring has been creating a botanical survey of the site starting in Summer 2019.
nicknamed the "hotel tree" (aka "air-b-n-tree"), this diseased and dying white pine on the site has been extensively mined by pileated woodpeckers, and frequently each cavity hosts a different invertebrate "guest." occasionally mice also use the cavities, and these provide an attraction for owls. no trip to the site is complete without a visit to the hotel tree.