Posted tagged ‘trees’

The Saturday Book Shop – Trees, Glorious Trees

January 24, 2021

Welcome back to The Saturday Book Shop (which originally started here.).

The ongoing and everyday marvel of trees is on my mind this week. Books and trees. Trees and books. They are intertwined and connected at their very essence. We leaf through stories, ideas, adventures, wisdom, poetry, insights, and shared written human experiences thanks to pages made (mostly) from trees. 

I have long been enchanted by trees. And books. So many. Highly recommend these books for fellow tree lovers:

 This beautiful coffee table book, Wise Trees by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, with gorgeous photography and writing, tells tales of 50 of the most historic and inspiring trees around the world. Wonderful to learn there is a tree that still stands on the site where the Magna Carta was signed, as well as learning where the phrase “knock on wood” originally came from. So many moving, uplifting, and poignant stories told here through the living spirits of wise old trees.

Another favorite story, beautifully written and illustrated is about Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees

Wangari Maathai’s story is an amazing portrait in courage, dedication, and commitment, where the simple act of planting trees sparked resistance and equal determination to reclaim the environment of her beloved Kenya. Her determination led to a movement of peace, reconciliation, and healing that lights the way for all of us going forward into this time of looking for common ground and changing the world one loving, earth-friendly tree-loving act at a time. This inspiring book soars with light and life and spectacular illustrations.

AND HOORAY for the new books soon available by Amanda Gorman, the young poet and self-described bookworm that wow-ed everyone at the Inauguration. Such heart and talent. Brava for her work and books that will be available in 2021


 

“… there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it; if only we’re brave enough to be it.” – Amanda Gorman

 Happy Reading and have an especially lovely tree-appreciating week ahead! Please feel free to share any special favorite book titles about trees in the comments!

Famous Blueprints: Our Humble Historic Home

October 7, 2010



A few years ago we were delighted to discover that our unassuming little home in Grand Bahama was born from famous blueprints—designed by Alfred Browning Parker, whose post-World War II contemporary modernist work in and around Miami made him one of the most sought-after architects in the U.S., garnering high praise even from Frank Lloyd Wright—a guiding influence in Parker’s organic architecture philosophies.


Originally constructed for a former chief executive of The Grand Bahama Development Company, our modest two-bedroom home shares architectural roots with a much grander home, built by one of Freeport’s founding families on Sea Shell Lane. This property was recently sold by Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty and photographed by fine art photographer Christine Matthäi. Matthäi’s artful images capture the home’s classic oceanfront elegance and the timeless organic nature of Parker’s work.

Sea Shell Lane residence photographed by Christine Matthäi

Parker shared a passion with Frank Lloyd Wright for designs that worked with local climate and natural materials. In tropical climes that meant louvered shutters and windows that allowed prevailing ocean breezes to cool things down in the days before air conditioning became commonplace. Parker’s sensitivity and commitment to use of indigenous materials is also evident in the limestone rock that is incorporated into both our humble abode and the Sea Shell Lane residence.

Beautifully blending local materials, recycled materials with then-modern techniques like poured concrete was part of Parker’s modernist mission. His designs are still relevant today in the way they seamlessly merge the interior with the exterior—blurring the boundaries between building and landscape in classic organic architecture.

Sea Shell Lane photos by Christine Matthäi. 2010 ChristineMatthai.com

In our little part of paradise, the grand old trees that surround the property are visible everywhere and bring a particular kind of contentment and sense of well being found only in the shade of their longevity. Our stands of mature trees were planted by Lila Gonsalves—the first President of the Freeport Garden Club—and I send her quiet thanks on an ongoing basis for the green goodness we regularly enjoy in the garden.  Sir Jack Hayward also had a hand in our arbor abundance, having given the now towering 40-foot tall Royal Poinciana tree that graces the front entry, to the original home owners in a coffee can—a tiny sapling housewarming present that bursts out in dazzling splendour every May & June.

Royal Poinciana entryway tree in full bloom

A kiss of the sun for pardon

The song of the birds for mirth

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth.

— Dorothy Frances Gurney


Our small home and the Sea Shell Lane property are the only two known surviving residential works of Alfred Browning Parker on Grand Bahama—a tie to modern day Freeport’s history that still smiles on the ideal of harmony between human habitation and the natural world—an essential element in preserving our island’s inherent beauty and grace as we make our way into the future.

Related Alfred Browning Parker Links:

Alfred Browning Parker: The Master of Coconut Grove:

Modernism Magazine (Volume 11, No. 2 | Summer 2008)

House Beautiful Magazine

The legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright commented on a home Alfred Browning Parker built for himself in the Coral Ridge area of Miami, featured as House Beautiful Magazine’s 1954 Pace Setter House:

“This Florida house aims at the highest goal to which architecture may aspire: organic architecture. Along this new but ancient way a home where the enlightened mind can flower, where people can develop their fullest potentials, is still a possibility.”

Slide Show: More of Christine Matthäi’s photographic images of Sea Shell Lane residence, click here.

From My Grand Bahama Garden …

August 27, 2010

It’s hot and humid here on the island in August, but when you’ve got beauties like these growing on a tree in the back yard, you start to appreciate whatever makes lush tropical abundance conditions possible!  These avocado pears (I had never heard them called “pears” until I moved to The Bahamas, but it’s apt — they are pear shaped!) means there’s guacamole ahead this weekend and slices of creamy rich pear-adise in my salads! Trees make me swoon anyway, but trees that bear treats … they bliss me out almost beyond words. Yes, happily, I am easily impressed and amused with the natural wonders of our world. Enjoy whatever slices of green goodness surround you this summer in your own bit of paradise …


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