Singing a different green: Exploring evergreens in springtime
Spring has many poets. I hear birds, wordless and articulate, building nests among new leaves. I listen to people, speaking with delight about warmer winds and greener trees. Here, I hope to add a slightly different note to the seasonal chorus – not as resistance to the emerging season, but in order to harmonize with these voices. I wish to speak in praise of trees that are green in every season: evergreens. These trees steadily replace their needles and thus remain green all year. Their constant color provides me with ongoing pleasure. During the months of March and April in particular, I appreciate how their continuous, quiet hues underscore the sudden, fresh leaves on deciduous trees. The books in this list provide different routes for exploring evergreens. All of them increased my appreciation for the deep green alongside the bright.
Perusing a guide to trees is one satisfying way to supplement your awareness. Of the many available handbooks, I like the convenient Trees of Colorado Field Guide by Stan Tekiela. It presents information clearly, shares valuable photos, and is a handy size for carrying – making it a good choice for readers who want to learn to identify trees while observing them. Of course, flowers also call for attention in spring, along with trees, and Rocky Mountain Flora is another resource worth keeping within reach. I mention it here because it concisely asserts the importance of evergreens for anyone learning about flora in this region.
If you decide to pursue in-depth knowledge about evergreens, try reading some scientific works on conifers, 15 species of which are evergreens. My favorite is Conifers of the World: the Complete Reference, located in Anythink’s Science section. An alternative text is A Natural History of Conifers, shelved in the library’s Nature section. Both volumes are lengthy, more technical examinations of the trees many of us picture when thinking of evergreens. I particularly appreciated how their information helped me to situate the trees I see in my neighborhood in a greater context, both in terms of place and time. Conifers are found all around the world, and the earliest known examples date back to 300 million years ago. If you want to learn more about evergreens with a younger reader, consider Coniferous Forests: an Evergreen World, located in Anythink's Juvenile Science section.
In a poem from Evidence by Mary Oliver, I recently found these words (transcribed here as one sentence): “It was early, which has always been my hour to begin looking at the world, and of course, even in the darkness, to begin listening into it, especially under the pines where the owl lives and sometimes calls out, as I walk by, as he did on this morning.” In that moment with her pines, my own encounters with evergreens echoed within me. Mary Oliver elsewhere writes: “And here are the pines, that will never fail, until death, the instruction to be green. And here are the willows, the first to pronounce a new year.” Reading poetry, as well as stories of any type, is another wonderful route to tree appreciation. Unexpectedly finding trees in books returns me to earlier quiet times with evergreens, quiet symbols of persistence, steady among the sudden.
In your own recent reading, have you found any evergreens inked on the page?