Tag Archives: nature

Sunlit leaf parakeet

A new visitor came to the feeding station on the balcony yesterday. It was some sort of parakeet, with a plumage that seemed lit from within by golden light, like a leaf with the sun shining through it. It was so perfectly beautiful. It ate very quietly for 20 minutes or so before disappearing. It was very unlike the noisy mob of maroon and green parakeets that frequent the feeder.

When I looked it up it turned out to have the unfortunate name of “Plain Parakeet.” What an atrocity. I’ve renamed it “Glorious Sunlit-Leaf-Green Parakeet”.

That’s my blurry phone photo. Here are some professional photos and information:

More info and photos at Wikipedia

Medieval trees

I was startled one day to see a tree on a city street in Spain (possibly in Oviedo) that looked just like one of the stylized trees in a medieval miniature. It had been so tightly pruned that it was no more than a few meters high and had pompoms of leaves at the end of short branches. It looked almost exactly like this tree in a depiction of Moses before the Burning Bush. I’d assumed the pom-pom tree was a whimsical invention of the artist. Instead it turned out to be a depiction of a type of pruning.

Copy of a medieval depiction of Moses before the Burning Bush. Original source lost. This is my own drawing.

Many medieval images depict scenes in towns or in gardens – domesticated landscapes. I expected there to be a lot of small, symmetrical trees there, since that’s what trees look like in that context. But what would trees look like when depicted in wilderness settings?

Here’s an example of a king being gored by a wild boar in a forest, in a painting from 1314. Very naturalistic trees. But the trees are not the subject, either. They are merely indicators of forest.
This is a delightful hunting scene. The forest in the background is playfully done, and with great artistry, too.
Hunting is a useful context for finding depictions of trees, and I’m trying to look for things well before 1500 (this one is from the early 1300s). But I’ve not found any images in which the trees in themselves are featured – they are most often a contextual background, or sometimes a useful feature (as when someone climbs a tree in the story).

More on this in the future, perhaps.

Trees

By Tango7174 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26323542

Some twist of conversation the other day brought up the subject of very ancient trees whose products are still being harvested:

The world’s oldest cork tree

The Thousand Year Old Rosebush

The World’s Oldest Apple Tree (browse the photo galleries)

The Olive Tree of Vouves (there are several other very old olive trees listed here, too: Wikipedia List of Oldest Trees)

The Hundred Horse Chestnut Tree

Figs for bananas

Our flock of tropical fruit-eating birds is very fond of bananas and papayas, but usually spurn any experimental fruits we put out (grapes, apples, oranges). Today, however, a cold and windy storm drove them to eat voraciously, and by 10am they had finished two bananas and were eating even the skins. All we had left in the house were some figs, so we put one out. The banana skin remained more popular than the fig for another half hour, at which point they gave up and dug into the figs, which are now quickly being decimated by the sopping wet tanagers and thrushes.

Superabundance

The delicacy, detail, and sheer inspired joyfulness of God’s creative work is amazing. Take the toucan. You could just make a toucan, right? You could even give it a colorful bill and a wily personality. But do there need to be dozens of elaborate variations? It reminds me of the exuberant self-expression of a girl making Valentine cards for her friends – more lace, more glitter, curlique lettering on the front, hearts to dot the i’s, and a special assortment of candies arranged in a little box to accompany it.