Monday, September 22, 2014

The Polish Dendrological Society

This weekend marked the annual congress of the Polish Dendrological Society (PolskieTowarzystwo Dendrologiczne) in Warsaw, Poland. It was the first event I have attended as a member of this society. It was titled, Trees in the Shadow of Man, it was a great excuse to travel to Poland.

It was also my first opportunity to share my Master's thesis research Historic Tree Collections Management: A New Story for Old Trees, outside the USA. This time in the form of a scientific poster. The thesis itself if due to be available on line at the University of Delaware's Dspace in a few months.

Tony Kirkham, Curator of the Arboretum at RBG Kew, was the keynote. I had the pleasure of meeting with him at Kew last year, while the research was still underway, and I was excited to hear him speak and hopefully talk with him again. 

It was certainly a challenge being one of the few English speakers but the society is a warm group who are quick to laugh so we found our way. 

Most notably, we:

-toured the castle and garden Wihiowa and had a private tour (in English) of the restoration of each room. 

-Stopped in Wroclaw at the Botanic Garden, making note of the creative things they are doing with fallen trees.

-had a tasting of locally made vodka, flavored with botanicals.

-visited a stunning 800 year old Oak

-visited a family owned and operated Nursery and garden. The most impressive display and vast collection I've ever seen at a nursery.

-toured the site of two vast green roofs in Warsaw

-walked a new nature path along the Vistula River

-Visited the Pawiak Prison Monument Tree in Warsaw

I have submitted my masters research for publication in the Society's journal, so I will wait to hear about whether it is accepted.

The drive to Poland is somewhat long and difficult as one takes for granted the large highways and interstate systems in the US. The autobahns are slowly being completed and where they are already complete they are very fast. Where they are not it is very slow going through tiny towns and lots of fields. 

The people of the Polish Dendrological Society were so very welcoming to both me and my husband Thorsten, who participated as well. It was quite a merry band of international friends in the end. We made friends with a German woman married to a Polish man, who translated the Polish into German and then Thorsten would translate it to English for me. I made contacts with another Polish scholar who just completed her PhD in the evaluation of street trees of the urban canopy! And we were really lucky because she liked practicing English. Getting to spend the days with tree lovers of all nationalities including Tony Kirkham of Kew was icing on the cake. 

I detail the other interesting adventures of traveling through Poland in my other blog, Becoming a Franconian. (This blog chronicles the adventure of moving to Germany as an American and is updated almost daily.) 

Monument Tree at Pawiak Prison, Warsaw

Szmit's Nursery outside Warsaw

Wroclow Botanic Garden

Szmit's Nursery Garden

Wroclaw Botanic Garden

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Happy Humidity America!

This week I welcome my soon-to-be in-laws on their first trip to the United States.  In reality, I'm introducing them to a baptism by fire in the humid, swamp that is the hallmark of the East Coast summer.

Considering that Europe is comparably less humid, I realized that this familiar humidity is what perpetually assures me that summer has arrived.  The air you can practically see, and can hardly breath, the fact that you start to sweat as soon as you set foot outdoors--this is how I am know I am home in one of the original 13...Colonies that is.

On the eve of my move to Europe, I wonder how I'll know summer has arrived in a new homeland?  I wonder what other indicators of seasonal change I'll miss, and which ones I'll become accustomed to. As I contemplate what it will be like to become a Frau, I find myself cursing the heat and humidity while secretly I savor it. Curious about what's ahead, I will treasure this year's humid Independence Day. For my American self, aside from Blue Crabs, the 4th of July is the way I've always welcomed summer.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

One for one

Today was finally warm enough to plant seeds.  Looking through my stash, I chose snow peas.  They like the cool spring nights and should be ready to harvest in about 60 days.  Putting my hands into the dirt for the first time this year I thought about where I'll be in 60 days...mid-June.  By mid-June I'll surely have defended my thesis, the graduation ceremony and celebration will have passed and I will already have presented my research two times. It will be the beginning of a new era. The ground will be warm. The daffodils and spring's flowering trees will be long spent. On a fresh April morning like today it's hard to fathom June.

In my hand I held the seeds.  Placing them in the ground I realized, one seed doesn't yield just one fruit.  No, one seed produces a vine full of peas, an entire tree, or hundreds of basil leaves.  So it is with us.  One idea can turn into a symphony, one thought can forge a new path. We never know the harvest of our words, our deeds, or our thoughts, but we can be sure of one thing: it's never a one for one exchange.  Alternatively,  we never know what small seed was planted in us, contributing to what we've accomplished or yet to find the perfect conditions to grow.  We are a part of a system so much bigger than ourselves. There is so much to find out, to explore, to become.

On my desk: