Top Tree

Top Tree

“A Beech is, in almost any landscape where it appears, the finest tree to be seen.”—Donald Culross Peattie, A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America

On a fine spring day, the shapeshifting copper beech tree presents a mind-expanding dance of light and shadow and color and fiber.

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Creative Arts Workshop - 2015 Summer Classes

Photographed here is a single behemoth specimen, one of 10 dotting the grassy expanse at the northern foot of East Rock Park. Far away, it appears inky dark purple, almost black where there’s shade. On approach, a merlot blush spreads slowly across, followed by waves of garnet, then cherry, then crimson. Closer, candy apple reds, fiery oranges and bright yellows emerge atop what by then feels like a great surprise, even in the throes of spring: an inner core of green, pale and luminous where shafts of sunlight strike. A thick, elephant-gray trunk, smooth except for very fine scoring, splits in two above eye level, then does it again and again, criss-crossing a massive canopy extending all around, from ground to sky and back.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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