[slickr-flickr id=”12687067@N00″ type=”gallery” tag=”treezone2″]
This winter I got in the habit of feeling tree bark. One weekend on a stroll through cedar woods along the Grand River, I discovered the bark of these trees is extremely soft to the touch and not especially cold, even on a bitter winter day. On my walks around the city I began taking my gloves off to explore the sensation of various trees. Smooth-barked trees like cherry and beech feel as sharply cold as the surrounding air. This gallery shows a visual exploration of bark I have made over the years.
Today I walked up to a maple I had groped a few weeks ago. The bark is rough, and I expected it to feel warm in the early spring sunshine. But my hand strayed into the unseen shady side and found instead cool moisture: either from rain earlier in the day, or perhaps sap seeping down from overhead buds. In the shadows it was coated with a patchwork of lichen like blisters of emerald and jade. On the sunny west side, the bark was indeed warm and comparatively barren.
I was reminded of the epiphytic lichens that coat the upper branches, or entire cloud forests such as this one I visited in Pukaskwa National Park on the north shore of Lake Superior last spring. A single tree is a miniature ecosystem, holding innumberable organisms in the halo of its branches.