Trees Near Hilo

April 21, 2008

Trees and Weeds

April 21, 2008

After the usual fabulous dim sum at Pink Pearl on Sunday morning, we headed downtown to the Art Gallery. When we were there in February to see the Truth Beauty: Pictorialism exhibition, we didn’t have the energy to look at the other galleries, and I had been intrigued by a series about trees. So today, we saw it.

The exhibition is called “The Tree: From The Sublime To The Social” and covers painting, photography, sculpture and video. There was quite a lot to like, but I saw my favourite piece first. It was Ed Piens’ “In awe of her power“, an intricate paper cutting, perhaps 20 feet by 10, showing a complex series of entwined tree branches with human figures within.

I was also impressed by some wide frame black and white photographs of fallen trees, full of stunning detail but with a bulk that respected the objects. I am embarrassed to say I don’t remember the artist’s name.

I guess I should have known that the exhibit would include examples of work (upside down trees, of course) by Rodney Graham, whom I have disparaged before. I had rather hoped not to see his stuff again, but there we are.

Outside, on the front steps of the gallery — Vancouver’s main commons — was a 420 to celebrate Cannabis Day. Several thousand people were there, relaxing in the sunshine, smoking dope, selling dope, hawking the marijuana lifestyle. It was reasonably well-organized with stalls for vendors and a complete lack of uniformed police. There were folks of all shapes and sizes and ages and colours and creeds, simply enjoying. We didn’t stay long because crowds aren’t our thing.

We came home and I cooked chicken kofta. An interesting day.


April 21, 2008

We have no real garden, just a well-protected extended balcony with everything grown in pots, planters and boxes. We have, however, enjoyed a lot of success growing flowers and vegetables — a success we put down mainly to the quality of our compost.

For more than seven years now, we have maintained a compost pile in a large plastic container. We turn it as often as we can, and feed it almost everything we don’t eat. When I started it, I went across the street to a local park and dug up half a dozen worms. Now, whenever I dig into the compost, I find masses of worms, sometimes in tightly curled balls. I love them and try not to harm them because it is they that produce the heavy dark soils rich with nutrients that fill our vegetable and flower boxes each spring.

Now there is a great little article from the Telegraph in London about the value of worms. The writer quotes naturalist Gilbert White expounding in 1777 that “the earth without worms would soon become cold, hard-bound and void of fermentation, and consequently sterile.” We also learn that the Egyptians had a caste of priests devoted to the well-being of the little earth-chewers. Moreover, the writer tells how the American prairies, devoid of native worms since they were killed off in the Ice Ages, surged with productivity once the Europeans arrived with their underground allies.

But there is possible danger ahead for my little friends.

A New Zealand flatworm accidentally introduced to Belfast in the Sixties has run wild. It kills earthworms by turning them liquid. The pest has spread through Scotland, northern England and Ireland and in some places, earthworm populations have collapsed.

This sounds just as deadly as the pine beetle or the zebra mussel or kudzu. I sure hope they keep away from my compost bin.