At The Gate

Illustration by Jay Kelly

Trees are fountains.

This is not a metaphor. It’s true. A tree is a fountain of water in wood. It flows only one way—up. It moves so slowly we don’t notice, but (in season) it does move: a large deciduous tree can send 250-500 gallons of water into the sky in a single day.

These past three months, I realized that Fall is a special season for tree lovers. Gardeners cherish the rhythm of Spring bloomings: “Look, snowdrops! Another week or so and we’ll see crocuses…then daffodils…and then…” This Fall, I realized that trees, too, have a rhythm to the end of their growth seasons. First the buckeyes turn yellow and drop both their big, quick-to-brown leaves and (yes) buck-eyed, shiny nuts. Soon after, the locusts and black walnuts shed the little discs of their fan-like fronds…and then…

Different trees also color up at different times. It suddenly became easy to spot hickories (big, multiple, yellow leaves) and sourwoods (deep red, with white maidenhair seed clusters). Even deep in the woods, they practically shouted their presence. It was a great time for me to work on identifying trees by their bark, while I had such bright guides to lead me.

Now it’s Winter, and we can see the arcs of the fountains themselves, the thin, high ones and the big, broad ones. What marvels they are, growing and changing with the years.

Growing and changing…this issue, GP No. 128, completes the 32nd year of this fountain of words. When I look at the image on our very first cover (above), I see a seedling sprouting on a writer’s pen. Nowadays I like to think of that hand as mine, and the seedling this magazine as a baby tree. The hand has aged in 32 years, but the tree is in its prime, ready to grow for years to come.

Pat Stone, Editor


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