Author Topic: Man Who Planted Trees (The) by Jean Giono  (Read 1371 times)

BooksAdmin

  • TopicManager
  • Posts: 196
Man Who Planted Trees (The) by Jean Giono
« on: May 06, 2016, 01:08:45 PM »
The Book Club Online is  the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

Welcome to our May Book Club selection.
The Man Who Planted Trees
by Jean Giono


"Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness."
- Thomas Huxley

Simply written, but powerful and unforgettable, the story is timeless, the story of one shepherd's long and successful single-handed effort to re-forest a desolate area of Provence, in southern France. There are dozens of facets to this allegorical tale
 by French author Jean Giono, published in 1953.


Movie: The Man Who Planted Trees

PDF Link to: The Man Who Planted Trees

PDF Link to: The Man Who Planted Trees
 

Discussion Questions for Week Two - May 15 - May 15

1. Have you ever planted a tree? Was it a seedling or an actual seed or nut or was it a mature tree? Was the tree planted on your property or in a public area?

2. Have you ever walked in a forest? Tell us where and tell us about what you noticed and if it was a new growth or old growth forest?

3. As the forest matures, Bouffier plants a particular kind of tree because of it effect and support to the land.  Most of us plant a tree for its looks and mature size, how do the trees planted in your yard and neighborhood support the land? Can you share anything you know about the root system of various trees?

4. Planting trees makes Elzéard Bouffier happy. What does this remind you of in your life?

5. The story shows us the process of life - growth, aging, conflict, and our impact on society. Do you think change to ourselves and to society is as indiscriminate as the wind blowing?

6. What new opportunities to develop interests did aging bring to you that while responsible to a relationship or job you did not spend time developing?

7. Have you, or do you know others who have used solitude, armed only with their moral resources, for the anonymous service to humanity?

8. What difference do you notice in the narrator when he returns after WWI as compared to when he returns after WWII?

9. What events in the story are similar to things that happen today in the real world?

10. Who are some of the 'tree planters' today that are making a difference in our world? 


Discussion Leader: Barb

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2016, 04:12:21 PM »
Jean Giono gave us much to think about with this charming and wholesome story - In many ways the story can apply to life beyond seeding a forest - This book was a favorite for me and as my grandboys graduated from High School a copy of the book was my gift to all of their friends who I had met over the years - a token gift yes, but I hoped they could benefit from the richness of this story just as I hope we can bask in the richness of this story for the next two weeks.

In the heading is a link to the award winning film that is a delight with soft pastel and water color drawings rather than live actors telling the story - the film and the story are pure enchantment - given the news of the day this story and discussion is a great escape into wonderment.

We start discussing the story on Monday, May 9, and then next week there will be another set of questions allowing us to see the story from a different viewpoint.

The more you dwell on the story the more there is to realize the land has needs and wants and folks have a variety of needs and wants - how to support the variety of needs becomes a question - some satisfy the esthetic and others satisfy their basic need of food and water and still others control the balance.

We can also read the story and see how small consistent effort create wonders. As the saying goes, Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

Enjoy... Looking forward to everyone's thoughts...

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9576
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2016, 10:53:28 AM »
Good, we've started.  I have to read some of the story first, though.

I like reading print books if I can, but for some reason my library, aside from the original French, only has it in Chinese. !?

mabel1015j

  • Posts: 3577
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2016, 11:41:21 AM »
Lovely story. I immediately thought of the wolves-returned-to-Yellowstone story.

http://www.yellowstonepark.com/wolf-reintroduction-changes-ecosystem/

We humans just have to keep learning the lesson of the interconnectedness of the ecosystem over and over again. Sometimes our motivations have been current improvement to everyone's lives, but often it has been pure greed. Often that means greedy for money, but for many of us it has meant simply "I want to be more comfortable right now" - buying bottles of water instead of using refillable containers; spraying with insecticide every insect we see just because we don't like insects, building houses that use 3x the building materials of ordinary houses because each person has to have their own room and we need a gym and a music room and a library, etc.

The disasterous ecosystem changes have come from corporations who have little concern other than making profits on something. Fracking??? Where did that idea come from and what engineer/biologist thought they could do that and not harm the environment of the surrounding area?

I loved this story, as I love the story of the wolves returning to Yellowstone. I don't know if there is enough info in it for me to answer Barb's very detailed questions, but I shall give them a try when I come back.

Thanks for alerting me to this delightful story.

Jean

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2016, 12:54:03 PM »
Great PatH and Jean - look forward to your insights - I saw this more than a story about creating a forest - it reminded me how any endeavor was one small step at a time and the difference those small steps can become.

His situation in life and his age also had me thinking - how regardless of age and isolation we can still make a difference. And that also had be looking at isolation, asking what is desolation and the ways we create desolation. The question to me was, does desolation have value and is isolation similar to desolation - what does isolation or desolation imply...?

And then to look at the needs of all the stakeholders in using, building, asking when is satisfying 'need' miss-using, and the value of profit to the average person.. the more I thought the more I saw both sides and and felt the angst as I question solutions for all the stakeholders. I come up with more questions than solutions so that I am hoping this discussion will include questioning reality and a sense of balance. 

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2016, 09:21:12 PM »
 

From Four Hedges - A Gardener's Chronicle 1935

"Thousands of years ago it was believed that trees imprisoned spirits and had a life and personality of their own. Their magical powers have continued to appear in folklore and literature, from references to the green man and tree spirits, to tales set in the depths of the forest told by the Brothers Grimm.

In France during the French Revolution trees were heavily politicized. In the 1790s the Tree of Liberty became a central feature in Revolutionary ceremonies, and thousands of oaks and poplars were planted throughout the cities and countryside. Today the tree can be symbolic of the fragility of the natural world."

The Ghostly White THIRST tree of Austin hovers over Lady Bird Lake to raise awareness about water as a scarce resource and to memorialize the more than 300 million trees that died in Texas during the 2011 drought.
 

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9576
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2016, 10:44:48 AM »
That's a charming story.  It's not the same part of Provence, but it reminds me a bit of the movies of Marcel Pagnol: an even more unforgiving landscape, but the same intense feel for the land and what is there.

ginny

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 54489
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2016, 07:58:31 PM »
I thought this was really interesting, From Four Hedges - A Gardener's Chronicle 1935...


"Thousands of years ago it was believed that trees imprisoned spirits and had a life and personality of their own. Their magical powers have continued to appear in folklore and literature, from references to the green man and tree spirits, to tales set in the depths of the forest told by the Brothers Grimm.

Didn't the Native Americans always think there were spirits in trees? Who was it who insisted it was bad luck to cut down one tree if you didn't plant two?

Not so long ago scientists found that trees actually give off warnings to each other, was it about a particular insect attack? It sounds crazy.  I couldn't believe my eyes but they said it was  true, which is spooKY...I wish I could find that now.  Just last week I read about how good trees are for people, not only absorbing pollution and putting back , is it oxygen, or something  in the air, but also you get a better feeling walking amongst trees than not, it's good for your well being,  that was on the BBC, was it a couple of days ago?

Anyway, I find the idea of trees very appealing.

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9576
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2016, 10:00:00 AM »
There are spirits or nymphs in trees in Ovid too, even the trees that weren't formerly someone else.

Many years ago the journal Science published a study in which someone analyzed the outcomes of simple gall bladder surgery in a small Pennsylvania hospital.  Other factors were equal, but those whose windows faced a row of trees recovered faster, with fewer complications and shorter hospital stays than those whose rooms faced a brick wall.

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2016, 01:51:48 PM »
Ginny and Pat and even Jean - it is a lovely bit of indulgence isn't it to think on what we know about the beauty, security and natural world centered around trees - found a web site that had 10 pages of 50 poems a page about trees - amazing - only really says doesn't it that we are in love with trees.

Here is a list of some of the tree poems... some are read aloud on this site - http://www.poemhunter.com/poems/tree/

 1. A Poison Tree , William Blake
2. The Sound Of Trees , Robert Frost
3. Christmas Trees , Robert Frost
4. Tree At My Window , Robert Frost
5. A Ballad Of The Trees And The Master , Sidney Lanier
6. The Apple-Tree , Jane Taylor
7. The Fir-Tree And The Brook , Helen Hunt Jackson
8. Pine-Trees And The Sky: Evening , Rupert Brooke
9. Pear Tree , Hilda Doolittle
10. Trees , Joyce Kilmer
11. The Cherry Trees , Edward Thomas
12. My Pretty Rose Tree , William Blake
13. Sonnet In Search Of An Author , William Carlos Williams
14. The Upas Tree , Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
15. The Bour-Tree Den , Robert Louis Stevenson
16. The Banyan Tree , Rabindranath Tagore
17. The Foolish Fir-Tree , Henry Van Dyke
18. Overhead The Tree-Tops Meet , Robert Browning
19. Birches , Robert Frost
20. When Autumn Came , Faiz Ahmed Faiz
21. The Oak Tree , Matsuo Basho
22. Aspen Tree , Paul Celan
23. Of Modern Poetry , Wallace Stevens
24. Light Between The Trees , Henry Van Dyke
25. Arbolé, Arbolé , Federico García Lorca
26. The Tree , Anne Kingsmill Finch
27. An Antiquated Tree , Emily Dickinson
28. The Bottle Tree , Eugene Field
29. The Sugar-Plum Tree , Eugene Field
30. Loveliest Of Trees, The Cherry Now , Alfred Edward Housman
31. Trees In The Garden , David Herbert Lawrence
32. Vertical , Linda Pastan
33. Not Dead , Robert Graves
34. The Rose Tree , William Butler Yeats
35. The Two Trees , William Butler Yeats
36. Birch Tree , Arthur Seymour John Tessimond
37. Trees Against The Sky , Robert William Service
38. The Christmas Tree , Robert William Service
39. The Hawthorn Tree , Siegfried Sassoon
40. Whiffletree , Carl Sandburg
41. From A Window , Christian Wiman
42. The Olive Tree , Karl Shapiro
43. The Tree , Ezra Pound
44. Abandonment Under The Walnut Tree , D. A. Powell
45. The Mahogany Tree , William Makepeace 

But what struck me and I wonder what you think - the Charcoal Burners are described and we pick up on them as if they are the bad guys having used up all the resources - then I compare them to the Villages described as living on,

"neat farms, cleanly plastered, testifying to a happy and comfortable life. The old streams, fed by the rains and snows that the forest conserves, are flowing again. Their waters have been channeled. On each farm, in groves of maples, fountain, pools overflow on to carpets of fresh mint. Little by little the villages have been rebuilt. People from the plains, where land is costly, have settled here, bringing youth, motion, the spirit of adventure. Along the roads you meet hearty men and women, boys and girls who understand laughter and have recovered a taste for picnics."

They moved to an area that was thriving with life - almost like families that are given as a gift a nest egg that someone else created - and then I think on the Charcoal Burners - I doubt they cleared the entire area in their lifetime so they inherited a land and a profession, a work - that satisfied the needs of many who depended upon Charcoal for their heat and cooking fuel - like today, we do not like the damage oil drilling does but we are dependent on oil for much of our everyday needs -

Then looking at these families with now a limiting resource - sure they must be feeling the stress and tension of not only working so hard to shelter and feed their children - but they must be observing the dwindling forest - "frequent cases of insanity" suggests in-breading that comes with isolated communities that also suggests for generations they have been Charcoal Burners. With diminishing "White Oak Thickets" to sustain them, they can only leave with nothing, as some do, to start over - but what work would they have to make enough income while they replenish the resources on these wind swept mountain slopes? Yes, leave for another line of work available elsewhere seems plausible but we are talking before WWI - before the electric light bulb and gas stoves replaced the need for charcoal. 

Then I wonder was the need for charcoal any less then the all out need on every front to support a war - remember how involved even kids were during WWII - since, wars seem separate from our daily life and our national resources. How do we handle heating homes in the cities during a fuel crisis? Seems to me we looked to the nation's stockpile to help us through the crisis as the Tree Merchants turned to the forest.

I think of today, the need for housing is enormous - I see it maybe because 150 folks a day - yes a day - are moving to Austin - My grandson graduated last weekend from the U of NC in Chapel Hill and my daughter smiled as she heard student after student saying they were heading to Austin with their new degree. Tons of wood will be needed to house all these folks as just a starter. And so, I see the Charcoal Burners as satisfying a need that today we would use gas, electricity, lumber and oil to satisfy. 

I'm thinking it is too easy to label those who do not protect trees as the bad guys - but are they really - they too have families, children to feed, shelter and educate - and yet, reading about the Tree Merchants made my heart sink - was it because I read the effort that it took to plant those trees and the protected years of sun and rain it took to grow those trees? I must say I did not think of that when we arranged for our house to-be built as I doubt any of us think of the tree felled when we arrange for our home or do I think of the forests and thickets cut down when I purchase food that grew on land that was stripped of trees or was barren but precious water was diverted from forested areas to irrigate the crops.

Did any of you have conflicting thoughts reading this story? Frankly I thought of the Charcoal Burners as if a band of poor waifs but then the villagers having been given so much to create a prosperous life I thought as spoiled and taking their good life for granted. 

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9576
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2016, 07:03:22 PM »
I had all sorts of conflicting thoughts as I read the story, but I'll start with an early one.  Why did the narrator, who seems to be the author, feel that it would be restorative to take a long hike across totally barren terrain, where you could expect to run out of water and have to walk several days before finding any?  It wasn't ignorance; Giono grew up there.  I think I know the answer, a little bit from having been in Provence, and a lot from some of the movies of Marcel Pagnol.  The terrain is incredible.  It's harsh and brutal and stark and magnificent and glorious, and it eats its way into your soul so you couldn't get it out, even if you wanted to, which you don't.

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2016, 07:46:44 PM »
Yes Pat, that took me by surprise as well - but then thinking on it in the early part of the twentieth century there were no books published describing hikes and trails or the landscape - as late as 1970 I remember maps were often Army issue Ordnance Survey maps rather than these easy to read trail maps with hostels marked and elevations noted. I imagine you just took off and hoped for the best.

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9576
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2016, 02:11:32 PM »
I also wonder how this particular area got in such bad shape.  It had been settled in Roman times, and ever since.  There were abandoned houses, dried up wells.  Did men overuse the resources and send the land into a death spiral?  Did a slight climate change make a crucial difference?  Certainly it's in desperate straits now.  His picture of the brutal life of the peasants, and the affect of their poverty on their spirit is unforgettable.

Halcyon

  • ##
  • Posts: 949
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2016, 02:15:01 PM »
I think I missed something.  Are we still discussing Ovid? 

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9576
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2016, 04:21:45 PM »
Not actively at the moment, but the discussion is still open for any comments you wish to add about Jason and Medea, or anything else.
http://seniorlearn.org/forum/index.php?topic=4878.160

I have something I want to say when I finish reading a link Marcie posted.

After a gap there will probably be another Ovid story, not yet picked.

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2016, 06:01:06 PM »
Glad you popped in Halcyon – we are discussing The Man Who Planted Trees, a delightful tale with deep wells of thought to explore.

Pat the condition of the area is “in such bad shape” as you said - to me the word that helps describe it is 'desolate' - that is when I had another set of questions pop into my head - Elzéard Bouffier lives in this same desolate area and yet, his living arrangement is described so differently - isolated, yes... desolate, no.

He lived alone in the "barren country" however, "not in a cabin, but in a real house built of stone that bore plain evidence of how his own efforts had reclaimed the ruin he had found there on his arrival. His roof was strong and sound... The place was in order, the dishes washed, the floor swept, his rifle oiled; his soup was boiling over the fire... he was cleanly shaved.. all his buttons were firmly sewed on... his clothing had been mended with the meticulous care that makes the mending invisible." 

The difference was striking. Then I equated desolate not only with ruin and rawness of wind whistling through the ruins, (I could almost hear the dry weeds that hang in the crevices of rocks, scratching in the wind much as the people were scratching and biting each other, fighting over pews, prices, the perpetual grind, their grievances.) but with the ruins of their lives and their greatest desolation, their loss of resources.

The dwindling Oak Tree thickets were further and further down the dirt roads. They had no other resources to mine. It appears that for generations charcoal burning is all they knew, and it appeared they did it well. Now the source of the charcoal, the resource their lives were built upon was coming to an end. History tells us what was coming next, even their market would quickly dry up as new fuels would take over, replacing the need for charcoal.

So to me the scene of these crumbling villages was describing a desolation that comes with hopelessness - no hope for these villages - just as the narrator said there was no hope of him finding water the charcoal burners had no hope of adding mature trees to burn. Even if they knew to plant trees the trees would not be of use to them in the immediate future when they needed to feed themselves and their families. We see hopelessness today among those living in the middle east who took hope in migrating to lands that reminds me of the landscape described where the later villagers have their "neat farms". The Charcoal Burners have no hope and so their spirit is as desolate as their quarrelsome behavior and as their life in their windswept houses.

Whereas, Elzéard Bouffier lives as isolated as the Charcoal Burners are isolated from each other however, he is not described as living in desolation. So the question, what is the difference between desolation and isolation - and I came up with Hope.  Elzéard Bouffier planting his acorns represents hope. Hope in the future, hope in making a difference, hope in affecting change to ruins. I think it is a great example of what could be a proverb but shown by this story rather than as a pithy saying such as, Desolation is Hopelessness. To use up your resources without replenishing them is Hopelessness.

The other thing that caught my attention was planting trees was a hobby, something Elzéard Bouffier loved to do - he had a job! He was a shepherd who tended sheep! That meant he carried out all the tasks of tending sheep from Spring births to Autumn shearing and selling the wool. In my mind’s eye till it hit me, he had a job, I was thinking of an older retired gentleman who lived alone after a full earlier life and he made himself useful gathering, sorting and planting acorns. But no, older or not, he had a job and this was something he enjoyed doing in addition to his job.

That was an awakening, a new slant for me, it put together a new line of thinking. As we age we can become dependent on others or we can continue to have value by each day doing some small task that will benefit the land or others. Gradually we will see the effect of doing over and over each day the same small task - and that is expressing hope. With hope, there is the potential for a matured living-forest as a metaphor. Anything we daily attend can in time show a return - playing a piece of music on the piano every day and in time it will be a beautiful sound or stitching embroidery or, or, or… These small daily acts uplift our lives - it is hope!

And one step more - He did not plant the acorns because he had some dream of creating a forest - the forest happened - he simply planted - every day he sorted the best acorns and planted - in time his planting took on a different turn as he switched from being a shepherd to keeping bees that would support what he loved - the trees he planted as well as, having a product to sell - the honey.

I love this story…

mabel1015j

  • Posts: 3577
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2016, 01:27:19 PM »
This is an allegorical story, right? So we don't expect everything to be factual or even rational, right?
Another theme that came to mind for me was similar to what Barb just mentioned, how one small gesture can grow into a much bigger accomplishment, or become an important issue in society. There are so many real stories in history, i'm sure you can think of many: Harriet Tubman decides to rescue some members of her family and turns into the authority on how to escape slavery and becomes a spy for the Union because of her knowledge; Thomas Paine writes a phamplet against King Geo and fuels a revolution; Clara Barton is fired as principal of schools in Bordentown, NJ so they can hire a man, after she had started the school system and organized curriculum, teachers, etc., so she went to Washington just as the Civil War is starting. MADD began by two mothers whose children were killed by drunk drivers. Etc.

I guess the primary theme for me is one oerson and one gesture - or the same gesture everyday, as Barb says - can make a huge difference in your own and others lives and in the ecology.

We're off to the beach, so I may lazy about responding. 😀

Jean

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2016, 02:50:15 PM »
Wow Jean - yes, the one you mentioned that I have never read and it has been on my list for years and years is the writings of Thomas Paine - you are reminding us of that proverbial Mother Teresa quote, "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."

Love it how we can each see something different in this story.

You bring up the short history and affect of MADD and it seems to me it took years, maybe as many as 20 before it really changed law and habits - I keep thinking that today those who are attempting to change gun laws may have started to far up the ladder and needed first to have a campaign that changed minds and habits so that there would be more folks wanting laws changed. 

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2016, 03:45:44 PM »
I sure do like the quote don't you that starts the story in the second link to the PDF of the story...

In order for the character of a human being to reveal truly exceptional qualities, we must have the good fortune to observe its action over a long period of years. If this action is devoid of all selfishness, if the idea that directs it is one of unqualified generosity, if it is absolutely certain that it has not sought recompense anywhere, and if moreover it has left visible marks on the world, then we are unquestionably dealing with an unforgettable character.

Pat when you visited the Provence did you drive through the forest that was protected by the French government?

The story reminded me of Johnny Appleseed - reading about his planting apple trees it turned out he was not filled with unqualified generosity, but rather seeking compensation. Talk about a myth created that sliced off some truth.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/62113/9-facts-tell-true-story-johnny-appleseed

Quote
Chapman developed as an orchardist and nurseryman, and by the early 1800s was working on his own. While his legend imagines him as a messy nomad, Chapman was in fact much more pragmatic. Frontier law allowed people to lay claim to land through development of a permanent homestead. Such a claim could be made by planting 50 apple trees. So in his travels through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois, Chapman would plant swaths of seeds to begin an orchard, then sell them to settlers once the land had grown bountiful. This made him quite the land baron as he traversed 100,000 square miles of Midwestern wilderness and prairie. When he died on March 11, 1845 at the age of 70, he owned more than 1200 acres.

Another tid bit I had no idea was the way of the government...

Quote
The apples that Chapman favored for planting were small and tart "spitters"—named for what you'd likely do if you took a bite of one. But this made them ideal for making hard cider and applejack... By the time the U.S. government outlawed alcohol in 1920, Chapman had become an American folk hero. But this didn't stop the axes of FBI agents who mercilessly tore down orchards to prevent the making of homemade hooch. Aside from slaughtering Chapman's trees, this also nearly killed America's connection to hard cider. The beverage rooted deep in our history has only recently seen a resurgence in popularity.

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2016, 07:02:22 PM »
Fabulous web site by Fiona Stafford, Professor of Literature at Somerville College, Oxford, The Meaning of Trees

With photos - here is a small bite of her web site... https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/the-meaning-of-trees/

... With its blood-red berries and leaves resistant to winter’s trials, yews were a symbol of everlasting life, the oldest living things in Europe.  The longevity of the yew was illustrated by Fiona Stafford when she told how, at Fountains Abbey in the 12th century, the yews were already so large that the monks could live in them while the abbey was being built. Some living yews are older than Stonehenge or the pyramids.  Trees that were seedlings 3000 years ago were already vast by time Romans arrived.

... Our history with the ash is long. In Norse mythology, the World Tree Yggdrasil was an ash tree, with two wells feeding its roots – wisdom and destiny.  Stafford told how Norse mythology also ‘foresaw the end of the known world when Yggdrassil would shake and crack, the land would be engulfed by ocean, and the old gods overthrown. They knew that the great ash tree would not last forever.’ But, asked Stafford, can we protect the ash now that it fights off a new threat to its existence?

... Civilizations have been built from oak, as its hard wood has been felled for houses, halls and cities, its timber turned into trading ships and navies. Other woods are as strong, but few are as long-lasting as oak.  Some oak trees, observed Stafford, served as ale houses, some were gospel oaks under which parishioners gathered to hear readings from the Bible.  She might have added that the spreading branches of others served as shelter for local council meetings – such as the Allerton Oak (above) in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park, now over a thousand years old, beneath which the sittings of the local ‘Hundred court’ were held.

When war threatened, oak proved crucial for national defence, oak wood being unique for its hardness and toughness and thus ideal for shipbuilding.  But the oak’s value also led to its decimation since a large naval vessal required some 2000 oaks, and replanting was a slow affair, with replacement trees only reaching maturity after two or three hundred years.


https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/the-meaning-of-trees/

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2016, 02:44:14 PM »
I did not know about Germany's 7000 Oak project in the 1980s - the trees were planted as a memorial, " each paired with a columnar basalt stone approximately four feet high above ground, positioned throughout the greater city of Kassel."

https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/7000-oaks/

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9576
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2016, 06:16:27 PM »
Quote
8. What difference do you notice in the narrator when he returns after WWI as compared to when he returns after WWII?

This feeds into a conclusion I was already reaching.  The pre-WWI landscape is described as totally desolate.  But that isn’t completely true.  Yes, it’s desolate, but it isn’t nothing but lavender.  The few inhabitants live in groves of white oaks, even though they are cutting them down faster than they can regenerate.  Bouffard can manage to find forage for 40 sheep.  Some of the men make their living by trapping, so there is enough vegetation to support wildlife.

So what he describes is real, but he’s exaggerating.  Why?  I think he is emotionally in the same state as the blasted landscape.  He’s young, but has had a lot of solitude, and a tramp through blasted scenery seems to fit his needs.  But in his depressed state of mind he focuses on the bleakness.

To be continued.

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #22 on: May 17, 2016, 08:09:05 PM »
Wow can't wait for your second part - did not think of the fact it was lush with lavender rather than trees - and yes,  there was enough forage for the sheep - evidently between the content wind and lack of enough trees to allow the Charcoal Burners to be prosperous or at least they did not live as a prosperous people you have to wonder what was the cause of their temperament surrounded by rock houses that were built in antiquity.

But more the man who came back from WWI yes, I can see what you are saying - that war ended in an armistice where as WWII ended in a win for the allies.   

mabel1015j

  • Posts: 3577
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2016, 11:31:21 AM »
I'm wondering if I read the right site. Or maybe I need to go back and reread the story.  :P You all seem to have "more story" then I read. Yes, I will do that.

My first thought after reading your first list of questions, Barb.... I smiled thinking "the list seems longer than the story." I have referenced the story a couple times in the last two weeks in conversation. It does seem to fit as an allegory of many present-day events.

I do love trees and frequently point out beautiful trees to my husband. I also love lavendar. What is it about purples that seems to grab many of us? There are actually Pinterest pages titled "purple". Although lavendar plants bring to mind the aroma as much as the color for me.

Jean

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2016, 12:24:02 PM »
We know Jean that the entire story is an allegory which some define as an extended metaphor - the definition that catches the word is - Allegory: a story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation -

As Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory of the spiritual journey where as the story itself is like a journal of a hike through the countryside with stops along the way and so my thinking is we can all have a different understanding of this story and how we're using our time and what we do that makes us happy and the accomplishments we have in life without planning just because we follow our heart - sounds almost like reading a book by or about Steve Jobs who talks about only doing what makes you happy.

For me when I realized, which I did not pick up on the first few times I read this story, that he planted his acorns as a secondary experience while he had a job as a shepherd - that to me was profound and got me thinking not only of the affect of my interests in the past but realizing anything we enjoy doing and do continuously is like planting seeds.

Jean you have stood for me as someone who knows and shares much about women who made a difference to the women's movement and so to me that was one of your forests - there may be others but that is what stands out for me from reading your posts over the years.

But then planting acorns was just one small part of the story wasn't it - there are so many allegories in the story we can pickup on and associate to life - our own, others, and society as a whole. This story is like an adult fairytale or morality play - fun...

 

mabel1015j

  • Posts: 3577
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2016, 11:57:13 AM »
Yes, Barb, I frequently have talked with students and groups I facilitate and family about how one small comment or gesture can have a huge impact. One example I use was that in 1983 I was with a group of women planning a candidates night. Before we started the meeting we were chatting and I said "1985 is Alice Paul's centennial year, we should do something." All the women in the group knew about AP, some, including me, had met her on her 92nd birthday, just before she died. My initiating-do-great-things friend passed around a paper for us to sign up if we wanted to be involved............

That turned into a Board of Directors that planned a fabulous dinner where we honored Sally Ride - yes, she came to our dinner bcs AP was a hero of hers (always ASK, you might get a "yes", another statement I make a lot), and two others with the AP Equality Award. That was followed by a series of women's history conferences, buying, along with the Smithsonian and the Schlesinger Library, the suffrage and ERA artifacts from AP's estate, eventually buying and renovating AP's family house where there are now many training sessions for young girls and women to learn leadership skills. ............ Our goal in 1985 was to maybe put a book, or a plaque, about Alice in the local library!!!

I very much like the "planting acorns" anology. I also like thinking about how much nature improves our minds and behavior. I would never be able to survive in a place that had no greenery. I once turned down a job as director of a branch of the Philly YWCA because it was in a neighborhood that was desolate. I would have loved the challenge of initiating programs and working with the members, but the thought of driving to that dirty, run-down, no trees, no grass environment depressed me just by thinking about them.

I understand the importance of city parks and how depressing and destructive the original huge, block buildings of "the projects" were in the cities. I would be angry if I lived in that environment. So I love what NYC did with the abandoned rail line, making it a walkway/park lined with nature, the High Line

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Line_(New_York_City)

BarbStAubrey

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8770
  • Life is finding the magic that makes our soul soar
    • Two Sisters and a Hound!
Re: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2016, 01:22:28 PM »
I did not know that the inner cities had little to no trees or grass - not my experience here or in Houston or Dallas and Austin has now become one of the major cities - I doubt these areas would benefit from someone from the outside coming in to make a difference - there would be no feeling of ownership that would encourage the residents to look favorably on the 'green'.

I wonder how something like that could get started - Probably a street at a time but if there is drugs and poverty - shows my bias where I assume poverty and drugs go hand in hand - anyhow there would be no money to even plant - this is not the kind of mostly vacant land where the wind blows seeds and tiny trees have a chance of maturing over time - it would need a caretaker and probably some tree starts that were already 6 or more feet tall. Even just hanging baskets from street corner signs would require a caretaker and then how many baskets of flowers would be snatched without the neighbors having an invested interests.

I've heard of a few locations in big cities where vacant areas between buildings were turned into gardens by a few residents - hmm a challenge to think how 'green' could be introduced - I have even read recently and I forget what city but all the areas between the sidewalk and curb were planted in veggies to be picked by anyone and the same for all the traffic islands - but again, I think you have to get the neighbors to be invested in the project of it will be destroyed just because it represent the 'other' and there is inner anger with the 'other' not knowing who else to unload their anger - to unleash that kind of anger on yourself is why so many are on drugs - you cannot live with that kind of pain.

What a round robin mess - well as the saying goes - do what you can with what you have and do not let what you do not have deter you - and for sure I do not have the answer to how to fix areas that are so blighted without 'green' to uplift their souls.

Because that is it isn't it - many of need green and I bit all of us need green and when we do not have it our very soul is at risk - hm that sure was the story of the battle front for WWI - could be why the narrator returned to see what planting took place while he was away fighting a war. Hm I guess somewhere there is always a war, including the conclaves of poverty in a city and while these wars went on Elzéard Bouffier kept doing what made him happy.

Ouch that is a lesson - hm we really cannot fix everything can we - and as the Serenity prayer includes - accept the things we cannot change and change the things we can and develop the wisdom to know the difference.