Tree bones

Winter offers a unique opportunity to view the “bones” of mature, picturesque trees.

Winter can be a gloomy time of year. (And cemeteries can be gloomy places, if you want to think of them that way.) But winter allows us to see something we don’t get to see most of the year: tree bones, or tree branches. And pioneer cemeteries are often blessed with mature trees that have grown and expanded splendidly into the landscape over many generations.

Check out this tree in Union Cemetery of Cedar Mill, in Beaverton, Oregon. Isn’t it something?

Photo by the author

And check out the eerie, moss-draped branches of this tree in the Bellinger Cemetery, near Lebanon, Oregon. You’d never see it this way in full summer.

Photo by the author

And here’s a slightly unbalanced but still attractive tree in the Pleasant Butte Cemetery near Brownsville, Oregon. It looks like it’s reaching for something.

Photo by the author

Of course trees are beautiful any time of the year, but in winter we can see what anchors the twigs in the air to the trunk in the dirt. Air and earth meet in wood. It’s a wonderful portrayal of the dynamic tension between the balance of the overall tree and the individual asymmetrical branches. These old and wise trees know how to grow to withstand the weather and the ages. And we can find many to admire in pioneer cemeteries.

Stump and Lamb explores personal growth and meaning via travels to pioneer cemeteries of the West.

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