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I think of these towering pines as Christmas Trees. I truly do. When I first moved to Fort Wayne, I did not have much money but one thing my daughter wanted was a real Christmas tree. Of course, I saved up the extra dollars and went out and bought one and a stand to put it in. We had a lovely tree and the pine smell and the dropped needles and the drying out. I learned that I was to dispose of my tree at a lot set aside for recycling and disposal. I did so. Upon arriving at the lot and stepping out of my car, I paused. There were mounds of trees and I mean MOUNDS!!!! They were in various stages of dryness and pine needles were strewn everywhere. I looked around furthur and saw living pines around the lot. Were they mourning the site as I began to do?  I asked myself why I did something so heartless.  THAT IS HOW I FELT AT THAT MOMENT. HONEST. Believe me. I pass no judgement on others who still choose to have a real tree, as many do, but at a time when we are talking of global warming and we are realising the decline of our forests, why do we continue to do this?  I shared what I had experienced with my daughter and she was touched by what I had seen. Now? We have fake trees that we set up each year and with the same ritual. It is more beautiful to me because I know there is one less tree  that gets thrown on that pile.  Someone said to me, once, that these trees are specifically raised to sell as Christmas trees. Well, my thoughts are:  what a wonderful site to allow these trees, specifically grown to be Christmas trees,  to tower and flourish and give off oxygen and provide shade and whisper songs to us thru their branches as these lovely trees did this summer as I sat beneath them and painted. I found them magnificent!

 🙂  Stephen Quirke has painted a sentinel, also, here.  It rarely happens that we title something the same……. How interesting.

A beautiful post about trees, here, by Eva; complete with video!

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53 Comments

    • Sandrine Pelissier
    • Posted December 13, 2010 at 7:15 pm
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    • Reply

    Great painting! I like the way you did the pines in a pointillist style.

    We have an artificial tree as well and are very happy with it. I think, hopefully, more and more people are trying to be more ecologically responsible for Christmas. This year we are resisting the temptation to buy too many things and try to spend more time with the family: the true meaning of Christmas 🙂

    • Thank-you, Sandrine. I could not think of another way to describe the bumps and values on these lovely trees. I tried to pay special attention to the bends of the branches and trunks, so they would all have their special and unique form for the owners of this property. When I was lucky, I actually saw deer, here.
      We are also cutting back on the “big spend” this Christmas and concentrating on being together and gifting things needed. 🙂

  1. Another alternative, and what I did the last few years, is buy a living tree – in a pot. When the season is over, plant it. Redwoods make wonderful living Christmas Trees, if you live in an area where it can get the shade, cool temps, and water it needs. There are all sorts of pine trees that make lovely Christmas Trees, naturally, but so do Cypresses. Think how wonderful your yard, your street, your neighborhood park would be if every year, you just paid the extra money for a lovely living tree! It is a Christmas gift that keeps on giving!

    • I have heard of this, Kate, and love that idea in climates where one can plant at this time of year! Wouldn’t that be amazing? To witness all these plantings each year? Thank-you for your input on the types of trees that are good for this!

  2. Ai Leslie – what would the world be without artists to point out the sadness of the piles of discarded trees. It is all so functional without us. Thank you for this story. The picture you paint of the dead trees made me weep.
    We have a Yellowwood tree (Podocarpus Latifolius) in a bucket that we have been using for the last almost 20 years. It loses some leaves in our house but recovers when we put it back in the garden where it gets watered with the rest of the jungle. Sinead always decorates it with tinsel and lights and it is a special thing. Yellowwoods are the forest giants in our indigenous forests.
    You are really developing a special skill for painting trees. And I love the deer.
    ‘Sentinels’ is a great topic hey – (o;

    • Hey. I added a ping back to you, Stephen. When I read your post and viewed your painting, Sentinel, I just smiled. How is it that, half a world away, we both had the same title in our heads? Phenomenal!
      I am learning that so many people feel the way we do…. I think that is a good sign. I am going to google yellowwood so I know what you are referring to.
      Thank-you for the comment on my painting trees. I am really trying to differentiate between them in paint. Who knows where this will take me?

  3. yeah, i remember the feeling you describe seeing the recycling lots for Christmas trees too. as has been suggested, i like the idea of “living” Christmas trees, that can then be planted. you dont have to plant it immediately after Christmas tho, you can keep it in the pot till it’s a more suitable time, like the spring. i’ve kept a very small one in a pot (i actually transplanted it into a bigger pot) for 5 or 6 years. i got it when it was about 8 or 9 inches tall and it grew fine in the pot(s) so i used it year after year for a while. there are other alternatives – i’ve used for years a strawberry guava limb that i trimmed one fall and allowed the leaves to fall off… it’s been a great Christmas tree every since then. i have to keep the strawberry guava cut back considerably because of where they were originally planted – which is fine. making use of the trimmed limbs by trimming it out at Christmas time… just makes these trees that much more special.

    and your painting… yeah, what you felt, sitting there, comes out in the painting with or without your words. beautiful and magnificent.

    • Wow. I like the idea of a tiny tree growing in a pot for several years. I will look into that. Then, I can plant it when the weather is favorable. I like the idea of the strawberry guava limb (and I will be googling that, Wrick). Thank-you for the comment on my painting. 🙂

  4. Leslie – bravo! Your words are powerful. I applaud your kind and caring heart and your beautiful painting.

    • Thank-you, Linda. Since you are in the same State, do they do this collecting of the trees there in Indy?

  5. O Leslie. Your sharing of the memory of discarded trees struck a cord for me. For several years I managed a urban recycling sites. And every season watched in dismay as the pile of trees dropped off grew and grew in the parking lot. I LOVE BigSurKate’s idea. I did this several years with these little potted pines you can find in our local grocery stores–and decorated them with minature ornaments. My children adored the idea of a LIVING tree in the house. Previously we’d kept the ‘cut’ trees for as long as possible–and I do mean for as LONG as possible with constant watering for months after the season. When those little living pines aren’t available then the artifical tree gets to come out and play.

  6. Your painting is so wonderful, Leslie! You gave these trees a little “wiggle in their butt” as I like to call it! They are alive and free! The deer are very happy about it, too! 🙂 I love the pointillism of the pines, too! It was my first thought, when I opened the post!

    Your post gave me goose bumps! For years, when I was in my 20’s (in California) I had a live tree in a pot that I would bring inside every Christmas, until it got too big for me to move. It was then planted permanently in the yard. My last “chopped down” tree, was in the 70’s. I LOVE this post!!! **clapping**

    Merry Christmas!

    • You made my day, Beth! I can hear your applause, the way you worded this. I also like it that you can see the wiggle to the trees. They are definitely shaped by the wind. Love the story about the potted tree! 🙂

  7. Well said Leslie, you are so right, why not let them live and in turn preserve our own “existence”? It is so nice to hear you are doing your part for regulating these crazy drop and rise in temperatures.. 🙂 I really first got the fake Christmas tree, because I did not want to deal with the recurring costs every year and the “drama” for the disposal.. I will now embrace your perspective, thanks, it genuinely sounds humane!!
    The trees are amazing and with the snow falling a little faster on the site, it gives a perfect setting and a real life feel to it, as if I am peering out of my living room window!!

    • I am really enjoying hearing that many people have used fake trees or pottedtrees, also! Thank-you for that comment about this scene looking as though you are gazing at it from your window, Rachana. 🙂

  8. Love the painting, Leslie! You made the vista so airy! Also appreciate the sentiment about the Christmas tree cemetery. I have been decorating an artificial tree for ages for this very reason – do not want another tree cut. I love the idea of a Christmas tree in a pot that I just read in other people’s comments, haven’t thought about it myself. Really a great and environment friendly thought. Amazing things you can learn on art blogs sometimes, will keep it in mind – thank you!

    • See? We all think alike? This is amazing and I embrace it. Why, then, are there two lots full of Christmas trees kitty corner from one another less than a mile from me? I need to think about this tree in a pot thing. I think I would rather enjoy raising a little one and planting it. I do OK with some plants and not so good with others. Thanks for the comment on my painting, Alex!

  9. Hey world, look over here for a minute please. See these gorgeous trees that Leslie painted? When you find ones like this, please feel free to hug them. While you are hugging one, say thanks. It’s breathing for you. It is transforming chemicals so you,the animals and I can breathe, have water, eat, and enjoy shade, scent, safety and peace. You may not hear a sound, but it’s schedule is 24/7.

    The best way to show gratitude? Just leave it alone.

    • I love that 24/7, Amy, and the idea of leaving something alone to show one’s love. Thank-you!

    • Really loved your comment here, souldipper! If we only could leave it alone…

  10. Beautiful painting and wonderful post. I haven’t put up a tree in years, but many people do buy those “living Christmas trees” that can get planted after you take the ornaments down. In my neighborhood, the trees can be taken to the park after christmas is over. They mulch up the trees and use it in the part, so they don’t go to waste.

    One time at a wedding, the gift was little pine saplings that people could take home and plant. I thought that was a terrific idea. Again, I had no place to plant mine, but I gave mine (and a few others I took) to my brother-in-law and now they are big pine trees that are growing in his yard.

    I love your dappled foliage, that bright blue sky and the shadows on the ground.

    • This is rather fun, finding out what everyone does about their Christmas tree each year. I think the idea of gifting a tree at any time would be fantastic, as you say. ……and I know about there being no place for a tree in your front yard because the trees there have got it all covered already: https://lesliepaints.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/yellowdogsong2.jpg

      Thank you about the dappled foliage, Carol! and the shadows! 🙂

  11. I have been putting up a fake Christmas tree since the 1980’s, and have been missing a real tree each year all this time. But now, after reading your story I have no desire again to have a real tree in my home again. Now when I put up my Christmas tree I will have a whole new attitude toward that fake tree. I’ll too know there is one more tree alive for it.
    I’m telling you Leslie, I learn so much from you. You are really an awesome person to have taken the time to know. Thank you for posting “Indiana: Sentinels”.

    • Hi Debbie,
      I am super glad I talked about this tree thing on this post. It seems that many share the same feelings and it has totally been refreshing to read what you and the others have written in your comments to this post. Thank-you for your kind comments about my blog and what I post. That means quite a bit to me.

  12. What a beautifully clean painting.

    • Ha! Not full of my splatters, frisket and ink like I have been doing lately! Thank-you, Ryan!!!

  13. We have a scheme here in the UK where you adopt a tree. The young trees are kept in pots and you return them after the festive period. They’re then planted in the ground. I think the scheme is still operating. We now have an artificial tree, although ours is made from bronze,4ft tall and each branch holds a small candle. I love your painting Leslie. the bevels in the foreground draw my eye to those magnificent trees. But the sky, boy, I’m inspired to try my hand!

    • Oh Keith, how wonderful to have a tree that you know will be planted. I think that is a wonderful plan. Your bronze tree sounds beautiful. Thank-you for your comments on this painting. I have been practicing skies this past year. Now, I NEED to, sometime, set aside time to work on painting water. One thing that helped me with painting a sky was the trick about softening edges that I learned at the workshop this summer. He called it tickling an edge. You take a thirsty brush and wipe as much water out of it with a paper towel held in your other hand. You rub that against the still wet edge that you don’t want to dry with a hard edge and then re-wipe the brush and keep tickling all those edges you don’t want a hard edge to appear on. It took me about a week to get it. I don’t catch everything but it has helped with skies. 🙂

  14. It is a beautiful painting with a powerful message Leslie.. hopefully more and more people realize the value of conservation of green. Happy Christmas to you!

  15. The pine tree painting is really great, i like the way it give an illusion that it’s waving at me or it’s my imagination. I totally agreed about enviornment conservation, i too used plastic tree and can poudly say for the past 8 years (the same tree). We have a few decor for different theme for different year and some of it we reuse since the last few years. Noadays i saw live pine tree (in the middle of a tropical country) sell in large departmental store, it’s kinda sad.

    • Francis! Your gravatar is a snowman! Does it even snow in Malaysia? I really like the idea of different themes for the years. I remember you talking of that before in a post. I agree about the large lots of trees. Tis sad.
      Thank-you for telling me of the trees looking as though they are waving at you. Those long branches do wave in the wind. …and the pine needles filter down and tickle your arms and neck if you happen to be beneath them. 🙂 Thanks, Francis!

  16. I have a profound respect for trees; how they can tolerate so many ex- streams and to ware life scars with pride and tears! I was touched by this one, inseed.

    • Thank-you, Sam. Yes, they do survive such extremes, especially here in the midwest, this year. I just read some of your poetry. Thank-you for letting me know you are out there. I am still reading and re-reading “Tranquility”. http://sam373.wordpress.com/tranquility/
      I am enjoying your choice of words and trying to decide who you are writing to. Don’t tell me! I love going places reading poetry!

  17. We have gone back and forth over the tree issue at our house. Usually, we buy a real one since we know a few farmers who depend on this “crop” too. I can, however, recall decorating a camera tripod one year because I didn’t want to deal with the issue. Here, Christmas trees are recycled and turned into mulch for the city’s parks.

    • A camera tripod! I can see it….and a fine tree it would be because I know how good you are with sculpting out of what you have available, Al!

  18. Beautiful painting leslie.
    The colours, the sky its all good.
    I really enjoy looking at this

  19. A moving post, and such a beautiful scene to see the trees growing naturally providing shade for the deer. So beautiful!

  20. You have been given a great and wonderful gift. I write and create. That’s what I do. People who do not can not understand what it means to be able to do so.

    You paint magnificently. Those of us who do not can not understand what it is to be able to do so.

    I do not need to understand it to know that it is good.

    Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • Thank-you, Tim. What a nice comment about my painting. Thank-you for taking the time!

  21. Oh, Leslie, the word of your story is getting around. I shared this post with other family members, and friends of mine that put up real Christmas trees. They were so touched by your story that they too can’t not bring themselves to put up a real Christmas Tree, nor do they have the desire to do so. Though some of them already have their real trees up, they have vowed they would only put up fake ones in the future.
    Isn’t that wonderful!!

    • Thank-you, Debbie! This really means a lot that a story can be passed on and people learn something about how they really feel through someone else’s eyes. Thank-you for sharing this story and thank-you for letting me know. What a special gift you have given! Jumping for joy, I am….. 🙂

  22. They sure do look better when they’re adorning the countryside as opposed to our living rooms for a few short weeks each year… Love the way you’ve managed to capture all the variegated greens too..

  23. Interesting & thought provoking reading through this. I add myself to your list of readers that has a growing tree in a pot!

    I think the answer as to which is more ecological is actually very complicated, although seeing a load of cut trees is of course emotionally upsetting – at least for those of us that way inclined.

    Here are some of the pros & cons this got me thinking about:

    A real tree that has been cut down has often been grown somewhere pumped full of fertilizers & pesticides.

    The plantations are not usually indigenous(unless of course you live in somewhere like Norway), therefore the habitat provided is not very useful for native species. These plantations are therefore also in many cases displacing indigenous forest along with their ecosystems. Nothing else grows under Christmas trees.

    Large plantations of rows of Chrismas trees are aesthetically unattractive in the landscape- though I admit that this one is entirely subjective!

    In their favour, one acre of Christmas trees is supposed to provide 16 people with enough oxygen to live on for a year before being chopped down.(Quote from Lucy Spiegel in The Guardian). Also you could plant thickly to start with & then those that are removed could be sold as Christmas trees whilst leaving others to grow larger.

    As for fake trees, they are often made far from our own country so we have to consider the consumption of energy & creation of pollution in the transport factor.

    Then the fact that when it’s no longer wanted it’s less biodegradable than a real tree.

    Also, do we know if the company making them exploits its workers or not?

    Is the industrial plant that makes the fake trees polluting the local environment by its methods of manufacture?

    In it’s favour it lasts a long time & you avoid killing off a real tree.

    And at the end of all that I still don’t know the solution, which I guess is why I have one in a pot. But that still doesn’t avoid the fact it had to be grown somewhere first & it’s not native. Plus the fact that I do not want to plant it in my garden so every year it gets a bit more bedraggled looking. One Christmas tree in the vicinity is more than enough- my neighbour’s one is immense & blocks the view. It looks very incongruous particularly on a hot summer’s day.

    Well, you certainly have got people questioning here.Happy Christmas.

    • Oh wow, Sonya. I like how well thought thru your comment is. Thank-you! I like the sound of 1 acre of Christmas trees providing 16 people with enough oxygen for a year. To me, that is a reason in favor of allowing them to grow or another tree that would do the same or better in their area. I don’t know the solution, either. I just think that there are many ways of avoiding cutting down so many trees. I like the tree in a pot idea as well as the fake tree. Thank-you, Sonya, and Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  24. i love how these trees wave and hail the sky… evergreens are my favorite, their scent and resilient insistence on green sweep me off my feet every time. you convey this richly here leslie…

    • Thank-you, so much, JRuth! I feel the same way about them. They are what is green when everything else is not. They cover the year. I find that amazing.

  25. dear leslie,

    i like this blogpost so much. yes you are right about one thing about the cutting down of trees for christmas. i fully sympathise with you. i think the suggestion from one of the comments to grow your own tree on a pot the best way to go.

    but the best thing about this blogpost, is your watercolour painting. each time you painted in plein air, it is a different kind of happiness and pure joy for me. i especially like how you painted the trees and the lawn. wonderful, wonderful painting. have a blessed new year.

    • Thank-you for this comment, Marvin. My paintings do look different when I paint outdoors or from places I have been. I think something different goes into a painting of a place that I have fully experienced. Happy New Year Marvin!


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  1. By Sentinel II » Stephen J. Quirke Watercolour on 14 Dec 2010 at 2:32 am

    […] friend Leslie in Indiana is also painting Sentinels, which is really kind of […]

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