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Tuesday 27 December 2011



Mixed forest of Araucaria araucana (aka Monkey Puzzle Tree) and coigüe in Nahelbueta National Park, Chile: photo by Scott Zona, 27 November 2010

Had great trees great memories
Would that lifeform which has looked impassively down upon centuries of use

Recollect the gold and silver pilfered from the Andes
By vast slave armies to finance the high tables of the New World?

The cutting edge of history is once again the blade that slices

The tall cold man in the dark coat out of the cameraphone picture

Snapped beneath the exclusive restaurant portico
Under the iconic exotic imported monkey-puzzle tree

Whose large female cones, if left untrimmed, would like big coconuts sway
So dangerously from the limber concentrically radiating branches.

Araucaria araucana, beneath the Sierra Nevada, Parque Nacional Conguillío, Chile: photo by lautaroj, 31 December 2010

Araucaria araucana, along Lago Pulmari, Neuquén Province, Argentina: photo by Pruxo, 15 March 2007
Araucaria araucana (Monkey-Puzzle Tree, Pehuén) on the slopes of Volcan Llaima, Parque Nacional Conguillío, Chile: photo by William S. Kessler, 15 October 2005
Araucaria araucana, Curacautin, Chile: photo by Pato Novoa, 17 June 2009

Araucaria araucana, female cones developing: photo by MPF, 27 July 2005

Araucaria araucana, new green female cones: photo by Derrick Coetzee, 26 July 2009


TC said...

Excelsa et alta et flexibile O arbor!

You'd probably retain your tender parts way up off the ground, too (and not just to keep the monkeys puzzled about which branch from which last they leapt), had you the memory-inwit of Araucaria araucana.

Having dinosaurs nibbling at your cones would be a difficult experience to forget, even after 150 million years.

And one would also like to think that, if hardly so pristine as that of the lakes and slopes of Patagonia, at least the bad air on the street is not quite so bad way up there so high above the traffic flow. Nose in the air, cones in the air, O elite one! Out of reach of the saurians perhaps, yet not the arborists!

(Why is it nobody ever wants to snap a trophy shot of themselves that's framed to include not the famous proscenium-entry gateway, but the remarkable yet scarcely-remarked, ancient, noble tree above? The stooping involved in getting a good angle -- would that be the problem, after a heavy-light international-class meal??)

ACravan said...

This lodges and lives sharply and broadly in the imagination because of the concepts imparted by the words and by the shapes, angles, elevations and seasons.

“great trees great memories”

Strange to say, Blade reminds me of a lot of the James Bond movie marathon I watched yesterday. A number of the films feature exotic, majestic South American vistas, often tied to the aura of political/criminal menace and are full of odd details.

Unfortunately, they’re only surface-deep and “semi-tough.” They tend to make Ian Fleming’s novels, which at least make unpleasant points unpleasantly, seem like Ulysses in comparison.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a monkey-puzzle tree before.


TC said...


The unique radial branching structure is a marvel to behold. The evergreen foliage, arrayed out at the tips of the long, resilient limbs, so high up off the ground, has a way of swaying in the wind that's very beautiful. And the resilience of the branches bespeaks aeons of experience of the winds of those very high mountains from which it comes.

Sometimes I have been given to think that the Araucaria araucana teaches a lesson. It says: let the wind blow through you, become part of that flow, let yourself go where it goes (whither it doth list)... because like it or not you will anyway.

To last nearly 200 million years a species has to have some wisdom or wit, of a kind which we miserable ground apes, with our petty hustles and bustles, could never properly conceive of. We simply don't have that long view.

The monkey-puzzle tree keeps reminding me of that (and I'll take my humility where I can find it).

ACravan said...

That's good advice. Unfortunately, the best advice is usually the most difficult to put into practice. Curtis

TC said...

And furthermore, something tells me I'm not going to be getting 200 million years of practise time.

(Heard an interview with an NBA coach who said that, what with the compressed schedule enforced by the recent lockout, "everybody's going to suffer equally from lack of practise time, so that's no excuse". Always love it when suffering, practise time and millionaires are concatenated into the same thought -- but isn't there something slightly contradictory in the attempt to fit democracy and suffering into the same concept? Shouldn't somebody with a 'Melo-level salary be allowed to suffer just a wee bit less? But no, wait, that would mean they would get more practise time then the mere benchwarmers. And would 'Melo really wish for that??)

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

We have two of these gracing the otherwise drab facade of our Town Hall--they were hardy enough to survive the freak killer frost and snow that did away with a lot of our olive trees some years back. More life in them now than can be said about our staid ho-hum local authorities who--would you believe it--are always making monkeys of themselves.

TC said...

Vassilis, I must say that Araucaria araucana, majestic in its dignity, would do with the dwarf-grandeur of "local authorities", everywhere, what it's been doing with all these instant-plastic millionaires who scurry in and out beneath its noble shadow now, and for that matter with the earlier generations of Conquistadors before them, and in fact with practically every body and thing... e'er since the Permian period (imbedded in the ice of which, its fossilized cones have been found).

That is, overlook them.

And as to the hardiness of the species, 'tis no exaggeration to say (with the song) it's Tougher than the rest.

Survival on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada and around the shores of ancient Lago Lácar and amid the snows of the altitudinous Volcan, not a bad performance.

Quality practise time like that makes for, if not perfection, at least an almost-perfect similitude of Timelessness.



O Great Arauaria araucana standing there on ridge below snow white slope of Volcan Llaima ". . .picture

Snapped beneath the exclusive restaurant portico
Under the iconic exotic imported monkey-puzzle tree"

(I too have never seen one before, nor heard tell of it)


pink edge of cloud above still shadowed
plane of ridge, red-tailed hawk calling
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

relative to system compared
to that, therefore is

there, each different given
present, formation of

grey white clouds against top of ridge,
wingspan of gull gliding in from point

Nin Andrews said...

Beautiful . . .

and yes, like it or not, you will go as you go . . .

I am thinking of the brain research that says we think we plan to do something but are already doing it.
Our brains trick us into thinking cause and effect, but often it seems, it is the other way around.

TC said...

relative to system compared
to that, therefore is

there, each different given
present, formation of

I would concur that there seems a deep and persistent need to qualify or locate each different given present within some causal structure that would "explain" ourselves to ourselves as rational creatures who strive for perceptible ends. When in fact so much of what we conceive as our purpose is actually so conceived only after the fact of some happenstance or accident. And whole great series of these random events and chains of events then come to define us. Until there is a jolt or disturbance that bounces us off the the illusory purpose train and forces us to understand we were just making it up as we go.

The araucaria seems to look down upon this curious human business like some extremely wise and detached elder, who then, a moment later, has wisely once again looked away.

TC said...

Every sacred tree and grove has its distinct beauty (and its particular threat of desecration).

Vassilis Zambaras: Athene's Tree (Two Poems).