Things on Top of Other Things

deity with more than a couple axes to grind

I went with my wife to see the Yoga Exhibit at the SF Asian Art Museum yesterday. She’s a yoga teacher and I am a humble student. It is the first exhibit of its kind, showing the story of yoga through the ages by using some amazing statues, paintings, and other artifacts. There were no photos allowed in the Yoga exhibit, but I did see lots of amazing Asian art that depicted things (deities for instance) on top of other things (their vanquished enemies for instance). One thing about Asian mythology–like Yertle the Turtle, the most powerful forces in the known universe always seem to be perched on top of something else.

on top of the entrance to the museum



DP Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

Tangan Tangan Invasion

A DP Weekly Photo Challenge – Abandoned

Tangan Tangan overtaking the abandoned (taken on Guam, by flora-file)

The Marianas Islands saw a lot of action during WW II. Guam and many other islands in the Pacific were also attacked and conquered on the same day Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. For the U.S., winning back Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands (especially Tinian and Saipan) was of the utmost importance during the fighting in the Pacific theatre, and the liberation of these islands eventually led to the notorious voyage of the Enola Gay.

The extensive bombing and fighting that happened on the islands left much of the natural forested areas bare, especially since Allied forces had defoliated many jungle areas in an attempt to flush out Japanese soldiers hiding in the thickets. After the war the US Military began air strikes of a different kind, but instead of dropping bombs they were dropping seeds. Tangan-tangan (Leucaena leucocephala) seeds to be exact. These trees grew quickly and flourished in disturbed soils. They are in the the pea family and have the ability to build up soil fertility through the nitrogen fixing nodes on their roots (like many members of Fabaceae). Now vast tracts of the islands are covered by tangan-tangan tees, often times forming nearly impenetrable thickets. It is surprising where they sometimes decide to grow.

In the 1970’s and 80’s the tree became known as the miracle-tree because of its worldwide success as a long lived and highly nutritious forage tree, as well as it’s many other uses. Besides forage, Leucaena can be used for firewood, timber, human food, green manure, shade, and erosion control.

Sources (iii)

This Plant #7 – My Big Old Valley Oak

(republished from flora-file)

Valley Oak – Quercus lobata

One of the very first things anyone notices in our backyard is the oak tree, which is far larger than our little house. It is a deciduous oak, so it lets in lots of light in the winter, and shades out the heat in the summer. During the summer its lobed leaves let in dappled light that is perfect for many California native plants. Of course, it drops about 30 cubic yards of leaves every fall, and every two or three years a gazillion acorns, which is all fine and good until I’m trying to wheel a 500 lb green waste can filled with 10,000 acorns to the curbside.

Our house was built in 1950, which is when most of the smaller trees in this top photo were planted. The oak tree on the other hand takes up a large portion of our backyard and part of our neighbor’s, and it must be at least 200 years old. These older Oak trees only grow where there is a nearby source of water, and we do live along an aquifer that carries water to the SF Bay Delta from nearby Mt Diablo. Our proximity to the aquifer actually means our house is in a flood zone. I’m not sure what  intricacy of fate saved this tree from being cut down at some point in the past as folks started paving over most parts of this neighborhood, but now it stands as a stoic survivor from a previous, unpaved era. When I think how the world has changed in the time this Oak Tree has been growing here, it puts things into a whole different perspective.

We had to get this tree trimmed recently, and had numerous arborists come by and give us quotes. Every one of them told us how healthy our tree was, what an awesome, amazing, huge, old tree we had. It’s interesting that everyone referred to it as our tree or our valley oak. The fact that anyone can try to claim provenance over such ancient organism seems more and more ludicrous to me the more I think about it. Really this is the oak tree’s property.  We are just passing through.

More photos of the Oak

The story of my life told through the story of my plants. Read more This Plant stories ======> HERE.