The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, April 20, 2017, Page 19, Image 28

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    APRIL 20, 2017 // 19
Tapping into an oak’s genius
Although National Arbor
Day is always celebrated on
the last Friday in April, in the
Pacifi c Northwest we observe
Arbor Day earlier in the
month. I seem to remember
that when I was growing up,
Arbor Day was regarded as a
quaint throwback, a pioneers’
holiday that had lost its rele-
My, how times have
changed! With the verifi ed
confi rmation of signifi cant
climate change within our
own lifetimes, the impor-
tance of trees and their role
in carbon sequestration has
led to a renewed and urgent
appreciation for tree-planting
campaigns everywhere.
If you aren’t able to plant
a tree, I’d like to suggest an
alternative that also will have
a long-lasting impact: read
Lynda V. Mapes’ refl ective
and exquisitely crafted new
book, “Witness Tree.”
In the early years of this
nation, witness trees were
the most prominent trees in a
landscape, used as landmarks
by surveyors. This book takes
a somewhat different tack.
An environmental reporter
for The Seattle Times, Mapes
took a year’s leave from her
job to spend time in a research
forest located in western
Massachusetts and operated
by Harvard University. Once
settled into her home away
from home, she singled out a
particular tree, a century-old
red oak, to study in depth –
and in height.
From its roots to its leaves,
on the ground and in its
branches, Mapes becomes
intimately acquainted with
‘Witness Tree’
Lynda V. Mapes
240 pp - $27
this oak.
She taps into all the
resources she can fi nd: ar-
chives rich in stories and data
from the past; sophisticated
technology that measures
changes in the surrounding
environment; and people who
are glad to share their special
expertise – foresters and car-
penters, as well as a landscape
ecologist, wildlife biologist,
wetland scientist, mycologist,
historian, artist and profes-
sional tree climbing twins.
Mapes studies core
samples and fungal fi laments,
blights, pests, chemical
processes, and – in the most
coherent explanation I’ve ever
come across – the signifi cance
of carbon sequestration.
She ranges through the
surrounding forest and con-
siders how the research being
done there might be applied to
ecosystems elsewhere.
In a nod to citizen science,
she discusses the value of
phenology — a homespun
practice of recording the
seasonal cycles of natural
phenomena (such as capturing
the date every year of the fi rst
call of spring peepers).
In exploring the oak’s
ecology and its daily and
seasonal rhythms, Mapes dis-
covers how profoundly a tree
bears witness to the life and
times around it. And one day,
while cradled in the boughs of
the oak, she has an epiphany.
“I’d noticed the oak’s ge-
nius in abiding with other spe-
cies above and below ground,
in a diverse, interconnected
nation of lives,” she writes.
Perhaps, she muses, our
naturally anthropocentric
view is thwarting us. Perhaps
we should be adopting more
of “a tree culture, a nourishing
mutualism that embeds us in
creation, working with one
another in collaboration with
nature to sustain us in our
common home.”
“Witness Tree” is fi lled
with thoughtful observa-
tions such as this, felicitous
phrasing, and an ultimately
buoyant outlook. This book
is a gem.
The Bookmonger is Barbara
Lloyd McMichael, who writes
this weekly column focusing
on the books, authors and
publishers of the Pacifi c
Northwest. Contact her at
1. any number of large,
flat-bottomed boats that
are used primarily for
hauling heavy cargo or
2. Scow Bay: a largely
forgotten shallow tide
flat that used to sepa-
rate downtown Astoria
from Uppertown. The
bay emerged from the
Columbia River between
18th and 21st streets.
There was a bridge built
over the bay in 1878
around what is now Ex-
change Street. Both the
Scow Bay Iron and Brass
Works and the second in-
carnation of the Clatsop
Mill were on the shore.
Part of the bay was filled
in 1908 to create athlet-
ic fields. Following the
fire in 1922, the rest of
Scow Bay was filled and
Commercial Street was
raised on pilings to con-
nect the separate sides of
Astoria. Today Scow Bay
is buried beneath the site
of Columbia Memorial
Hospital and the former
John Warren Field
Enters English in the
mid-17th century from
the Dutch schouw, mean-
ing “ferry boat.” There are
several surviving Scow
Bays on the Pacific Coast,
including ones in Wash-
ington state, Alaska and
British Columbia.
“Also open Saturday is a
Queen Anne built in the 1890s.
Around the turn of the century, it
slid one block to the edge of what
was then Scow Bay. Two teams
of horses hauled it back up the
hill, where it was placed facing
the cross-street, giving it a new
— “Holidays with history,” The
Daily Astorian, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006
“‘My grandfather, James
Lovell, ran a foundry, the Scow
Bay Iron and Brass Works,
in what was then known as
Scow Bay — that’s where the
(John Warren) athletic field
and the 4-H fairgrounds are
now. The business was going
to the oldest son, James Jr., as
things happened in those days.
Grandfather suggested to my
father (the son next in line)
that he go into the automobile
business. Dad was a machinist
in the foundry, so he had a
good background for going into
the car business,’ [Bob] Lovell
— Bob Olmos, “Longtime car
dealer a walking history book,” The Ore-
gonian, Saturday, May 15, 1982, P. 36
Saturday & Sunday
April 29 & 30, 2017
Astor Street Opry Company
Lewis and Clark Story or....
How the Finns Discovered Astoria
Written by: Judith P. Niland
final weekends!
Friday, April 21 st : 7 pm
Saturday, April 22 nd : 7 pm
Sunday, April 23 rd : 2 pm
Friday, April 28 th : 7 pm
Saturday, April 29 th : 7 pm
Clam digging lessons
Clam cleaning demo
Clam fritter cook off
Restaurant Chowder Competition
Amateur Chowder Competition
Beer garden
Live Music & Entertainment
Informational Vendors
Tickets on Sale ONE HOUR before all shows
***Reservations Recommended***
ASOC Playhouse
129 West Bond Street | Astoria
Something Fun for
the Entire Family!
Event times and locations may be altered based on clam tide approval