June 28, 2008

A Leafy Personality

Seems to me there are lots of books--children's books especially come to mind--about trees with larger-than-life personalities. Trees that become shelters of some kind to kids' imaginations. They become treehouses or forts or just a great place to curl up and read a book with one's back supported. Physically and spiritually the trees are there for support. There is a tree at my family's farm with a short limb about neck-height that is perfect for impromptu chin-ups. I can't imagine it as anything but a chin-up bar. That sort of detail is great for writing. If at first it doesn't seem relevant, just make a note of it and come back to it. It might just hit the spot.

Especially in literature of the South, trees evoke a sense of place and time--whether magnolias or weeping willows or live oaks.

When I think of the Civil War, one of the main images replaying in my head is Union marching along dirt paths as live oaks and Spanish moss blowing in the wind, like in the film Glory. Then of course there is the film Steel Magnolias. Anything about Florida usually features the palm tree in some fashion.

Something to think about when writing: where to put trees, what kind of trees to use, how they build a scene and evoke a certain string of memories.

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