In keeping with my tendency to set New Year’s resolutions that let me to do more nice things on a regular basis (rather than trying to fix something about myself. I like the things about myself! I’d rather resolve to bake more cake), I’ve decided to kick off the new year with a new print series.
I spend so much time taking photos of the beautiful place I live and the incredible places I get to visit, that I wanted an excuse to make more prints of those photos and send them out into the world.
Every month I’ll choose one image. Each will be 5×7, printed on archival paper, and will cost $30, shipping included. Each image will only be available for one month, and all orders will ship at the end of the month.
I fell into an unexpected dendrochronology (the science of dating tree rings) rabbit hole the other day, and decided there’s no better place to start a landscape print series than with a tree. I present to you: The Bristlecone Pine.
Sequoias are undoubtedly the biggest trees on earth, but bristlecone pines are the oldest trees (possibly the oldest living things) on earth. The oldest living specimen we know of is a tree in the White Mountains of California aptly named Methuselah. Methuselah is 4,765 years old. The oldest known bristlecone — 4,900 years old — was called Prometheus. It was cut down by some dummy of a grad student in 1964, instigating what some people refer to as the Bristlecone Curse. There seems to be a history of people meeting untimely deaths after become too deeply entwined in the study of the trees.
Tree ring science led to a delightful piece called The Past and Future of the Earth’s Oldest Trees. That led to a little lightening strike of a memory that I’d seen one of these trees before. Last year Kaleb and I went on a southwest US road trip, and one of the most beautiful places we visited was Moab, Utah.
On a hike above the town there were these strange, seemingly stunted trees growing out of the rock and red dirt. I took exactly one photo, and I love this one photo.
It’s so gnarled and bare that I when I took to the photo I wasn’t even sure it was alive (turns out this is common for a bristlecone pine). But it was so striking I couldn’t resist capturing it. Also it seems appropriate to use a medium traditionally made from trees (cellulose film) to make a picture of what is likely an extremely old tree.
Time Out of Mind
In addition to being crucial to understanding climate change over millenia, bristlecone rings have been used to correct miscallibrations in radiocarbon dating. While carbon dating relies on the assumption that levels of radiocarbon in the atmosphere remain relatively stable, bristlecone rings can reveal the true age of objects near to them. The order of appearance of ancient civilizations has changed because of bristlecone ring data.
If you’d like to order one of your own (or to send to a friend!) you can do so here. Thanks so much for following along, friends. Your support means so much <3