Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Enduring Roots

Enduring Roots: Encounters with Trees, History, and the American Landscape

Gayle Brandow Samuels
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 214
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Enduring Roots
    Book Description:

    Enduring Rootstells the stories of historic American trees, including the oak, the apple, the cherry, and the oldest of the world's trees, the bristlecone pine. These stories speak of our attachment to the land, of our universal and eternal need to leave a legacy, and demonstrate that the landscape is a gift, to be both received and, sometimes, tragically, to be destroyed.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5608-6
    Subjects: Biological Sciences, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. IX-X)
    (pp. XI-XII)
    (pp. XIII-1)
    (pp. 3-21)

    I am openly polygamous when it comes to trees. My first love was a sycamore (Platanus acerfolia). The mottled bark, furry balls, and satisfying sound of its name attracted me. But what kept my affection was its presence on my grandmother’s street: my favorite was directly in front of her house. After I married, when the paint was hardly dry on our first home and we were already moving again, we took a slip of the willow (Salix nigra) our toddlers had just begun to climb, tucked it in with the photo albums and finger paintings, and we planted it...

  7. Chapter two FAMILY TREES
    (pp. 23-37)

    This is how I imagine the scene: a two-story white clapboard house sits off to the left, a fence—part stone, part whitewashed rails—separates the house from the wide dirt road in front. A couple, appearing to be in their late sixties, stands in front of the house, behind the fence. On a narrow strip of grass between the old Boston Road and that fence a young man stands near a newly planted tree. He is wearing what appears to be a military uniform, as are a group of young men who stand at a distance facing him, with...

  8. Chapter three APPLES: CORE ISSUES
    (pp. 39-63)

    As we filed into the slightly apple-scented room, we were each given two sheets of paper. The first listed the thirty-six apple varieties we would taste. The second was for our ratings: “zero represents unpalatable and nine denotes an ecstatic taste experience.” Swaar was my ecstasy. And Newtown Pippin, which my notes describe as sweet but interestingly complex, was my second choice.

    I was with the majority in picking Swaar, a heavy American apple with a rich, some say nutty, taste. First raised along New York’s Hudson River around 1804, it was ranked second by the almost fifty participants at...

  9. Chapter four THREE CHERRIES
    (pp. 65-89)

    From the winter of 1996 through late spring of 1997, I was consumed by cherries. It was a pleasant occupation, but not easy to explain. Which cherries, exactly, people would ask? The “three graces,” I would answer: one is esteemed for the character of her wood, the second for the flavor of her fruit, and the third for the evanescent beauty of her blossoms. Or, “the glory of three continents.” The wood is from our native wild black cherry (Prunus serotina), the fruit derives from the European sweet and sour cherry species (Prunus aviumandPrunus cerasus, respectively), and the...

  10. Chapter five RETURNING NATIVES
    (pp. 91-115)

    My sister is telling me a story. It is about a woman who moved east from the prairie, following the prevailing winds. The woman, my sister says, felt confined. She could never get used to our eastern hills. She is telling me this story because I have just made the woman’s journey in reverse, traveling against the wind, but with the flow of American history. Though mine was only a short stay, I tell my sister that it is impossible to be on the prairie for any time at all without understanding what the woman means.

    Some have compared the...

    (pp. 117-133)

    On August 30, 1918, Curtis Pigmon, acting in his official capacity as clerk of the County Court for Knott County, Kentucky, signed and recorded a deed of conveyance “by and between Alice S. G. Lloyd, Trustee of the Caney Creek Community Center . . . and Mrs. J. W. Elliott of Boston, Trustee for the ‘Freed Budd Sycamore Tree’, of Caney Creek . . . party of the second part.” The deed goes on to say: “that for and in consideration of its shade, coolness and inspiration . . . the party of the first part hereby conveys to the...

  12. Chapter seven METHUSELAH’S WALK
    (pp. 135-160)

    The sharp, squeaky-clean colors of things were what I noticed first. Against a cloudless lupine-blue sky, living and dead trees, weathered in flowing striations of brown and gray ranging from butterscotch to mahogany and stainless steel to charcoal, stood at all possible—and some impossible—angles. Their bottlebrush-configured needles bristled smartly in shades of deepest green. At their feet, braided rivers of cast-off pinecones wearing their distinctive class colors hugged the dry furrows of the mostly gray-brown hillside with its patches of chalk-white soil. This is what I had come to see.

    It was June 28, 1997, and my son...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 161-176)
    (pp. 177-190)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 191-193)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 194-194)