Rest in Peace, Christopher Tolkien

Christopher John Reuel Tolkien died on 16 January 2020, at the age of 95, in Draguignan, Var, France.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s third son Christopher passed on an year ago today.  He was his father’s literary executor and spent countless hours sorting, deciphering, interpreting, editing and publishing his father’s mountains of unpublished literary output.  With him, the person who was most closely connected with and most knowledgeable about his father’s work from an early age on left Middle Earth and sailed into the West.  Don’t even know where to start expressing our gratitude…  Maybe best to keep it simple:

Rest in Peace, Mr. Tolkien.  Thank you for all the work you have done.

In this video, published in 1992, Christopher Tolkien comes alive again.  Among others, you will also meet his father again, two of Christopher’s siblings (one of whom is still alive), and well-known scholars interested in the world of J.R.R.T. such as Tom Shippey.

Into the Woods: Beech Leaf Disease

Globalization kills.

We are nosy people who love nothing better than spying on our neighbors, observing any change, taking pictures, researching and exploring what is going on with them.  Our neighbor’s don’t mind, as far as we know.  Since we live in a clearing in the forest, the only neighbors we have are trees.  To name just a few, there are maples, various oaks, tulip poplars, horn beams, alders, ash trees, various nut and fruit trees, black cherry trees, willows, tupelos and, of course, beeches.  Only there is a problem with the beeches, it seems.

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Zebra-striped leaves on beeches: a sign of BLD

Last year we noticed that many beech leaves looked funny, striped, in fact.  Since it wasn’t just one tree or just in one particular spot in the woods, we looked it up and lo and behold!, other people were aware of the problem as well:  Beech Leaf Disease (BLD), they call it quite fittingly, and apparently, it is somewhat of a mystery disease still.  On an Ohio State University website, the following was stated about BLD as early as August of 2017:

“We know that we don’t know what causes it or that if it is caused by a virus or other pathogen what its vectors might be, if any. We do not know how serious it will become or how much more it will spread from one area to others.

We do know that it is not easy to identify its cause; common suspects are not responsible.”

Almost three years later, at least the range of culprits causing Beach Leaf Disease has been narrowed down a bit, and also where it comes from.  Arborjet.com states the following:

Beech Leaf Disease (BLD) is a new disease of beech trees (Fagus spp.) that has been identified and observed in forest areas in Eastern USA and Canada. The cause of this disease remains to be confirmed, but a nematode species, Litylenchus crenatae n. sp., newly described from Japan on Japanese beech, is suspected to be involved in BLD.

They also give you an idea of the symptoms and timeline of the disease, both of which agree very much with what we have been observing around here:

Early symptoms of BLD include dark-green striped bands between lateral veins of leaves and reduced leaf size. Banded areas usually become leathery-like, and leaf curling is also observed. As symptoms progress, aborted buds, reduced leaf production, and premature leaf drop lead to an overall reduction in canopy cover, ultimately resulting in death of sapling-sized trees within 2-5 years and of large trees within 6 years.

The leaf canopy has indeed been reduced substantially nearby, with areas that usually do not get sunlight anymore as soon as the leaves are out being now quite light as the header photo shows.  Here is a little video, taken in the same general area.  Note that the small beeches in the front are just about bare and are only in the light because the old trees behind and above them show much reduced foliage.

Looking at the leaves from above, they are now beginning to look quite dried up and feel leathery as well, which means their ability to photosynthesize is significantly hampered.

beech disease fromabove

In some parts of our woods, there are substantial amounts of beeches and if they were to die off within the next years, it surely would change the forest we live in in ways hard to imagine.

If you wish to read more, here is a longer article with more scientific background on arborjet.com:

Beech Leaf Disease is Continuing to Emerge and all Cultivars in America and Europe are at Risk

Classical Sunday: Hammerschmidt’s Sacred Works

Performed by the Ensemble Weser-Renaissance Bremen

Sacred Works. Andreas Hammerschmidt (1611 – 1675)

* Herr unser Herrscher
* Anima mea liquefacta est
* Ein jegliches hat seine Zeit
* O Domine, quia ego servus tuus sum
* Herr, ich habe lieb die Stätte Deines Hauses
* Christ lag in Todesbanden
* Nun danket alle Gott
* Wenn der Herr die Gefangenen
* Paratum cor meum
* Da pacem Domine
* Nun lob mein Seel den Herren
* De profundis clamavi
* Inter brachia Salvatoris mei
* Herzlich lieb hab ich Dich
* Gelobet seist du Jesu Christ
* Vom Himmel hoch

Performed by the Ensemble Weser-Renaissance Bremen with Manfred Cordes.

Andreas Hammerschmidt (1611 or 1612 – 29 October 1675) was a German Bohemian composer and organist of the early to middle Baroque era.  He was one of the most significant and popular composers of sacred music in Germany in the middle 17th century.

Connie’s Baked Onion

Enjoy this episode of “Connie’s Camp Cooking” and glean various yummy recipes.

Lonnie and Connie from ‘Far North Bushcraft And Survival’ – they are located in Alaska – uploaded a campfire cooking video that we found both entertaining and informative.  Yesterday we tried the onion recipe and it turned out very delicious indeed.  Her sweet potato bread is next!

For her baked onion, Connie cuts the onion into wedges (as shown in the featured image), puts butter between the wedges and a bouillon cube in the middle, wraps and seals it all with aluminum foil and then just bakes it in the coals.  We did the same, but put the onion into the oven together with a bunch of oven potatoes and baked it all for an hour or so at 350ºF.

For the bread, Connie uses equal amounts of flour and cooked sweet potato (or pumpkin) mash and some salt, mixes it together until it can be rolled out or formed into patties, and then fries it in butter in a skillet.

But watch her do it, it’s much better than just reading about it.  And note her cobbler recipe that is printed in the video description.

Classical Sunday: By the Brook

Welcome May! Nature’s music once more on this beautiful Sunday morning in our neck of the woods.

Spring in the woods.  Is there a better place to be on earth?

We are indeed people of the woods, with our families coming out of the hills of the Appalachian and the Harz mountains.  Old hills…

This is what the little water fall looks like this weekend.

Enjoy your first May weekend.

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Herbal Household Remedies: Mint

Most plants of the mint family have a wonderful fragrance and can be used in various ways. Check out this link to find out more.

Here is an interesting article on the OFA‘s website about mint and its uses.  If you have some in your yard, you know just how prolific all the mint family plants are.  Make use of them instead of fighting them as ‘weeds’!

12 USES FOR MINT LEAVES FROM HEALTH TO HOME

How do you use extra mint leaves? Here are 12 marvelous uses for mint around the home and garden—from culinary to medicinal to mouthwash to bug repellent!

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All images on this post are straight from the article we are linking to, only slightly edited

Cultured Wednesday: Cropsey’s Greenwood Lake

Frank Cropsey believed that nature was a direct manifestation of God, or so they say.

Jasper Francis Cropsey (18 February 1823 to 22 June 1900), apparently called ‘Frank’, was an American landscape artist and first-generation member of the Hudson River School, so you can expect amazing paintings of great detail.  But first and foremost, he was an architect, and if you take the time to study his paintings you will find that his landscapes speak of his love for well ordered, clear forms.

We chose his 1870 painting ‘Greenwood Lake‘ as our focus of attention for this post, an interstate lake straddling the border of New York and New Jersey and the place where Cropsey met his wife Maria Cooley some time after 1843.  Today, the painting as seen below is displayed at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in the Spanish capital of Madrid.  Incidentally, this one is by no means his only painting of Greenwood Lake, and not all are exhibited overseas: One of them can be admired at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., for example.  For a larger rendering, please click on the picture.

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Greenwood Lake, 1870

In a way, it would have been nice to see the landscape around Greenwood Lake in the spring, but for someone famous for his lavish use of colors, fall surely is most attractive.  So enjoy this somewhat untimely scenery (unless you are in the Southern Hemisphere – for you it should be quite timely!), the beautiful view across Greenwood Lake, and the moment of quiet contentment the contemplation of a painting can afford.  Or imagine living in the fisherman’s hut along the lake shore as depicted below, and sitting on a bench next to your front door of an evening, enjoying a quiet sunset.

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Fisherman’s House, Greenwood Lake (New Jersey), 1877

Here’s one little detail about Frank Cropsey’s life that caught our girls’ eye: He lies buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  I guess the fall landscape fits after all.

800px-Jasper_Francis_Cropsey_Monument_2010 sleepy hollow cemetery

The featured image shows a self-portrait Cropsey included in his ‘The Narrows from Staten Island‘ painting from 1868.

 

Classical Sunday: Listen to the Cardinals

One more concert of the natural kind. 

Listen to our northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) singing in the woods.

 

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Trillium. This one is most likely going to be white. We’ll see in a little while.

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