When I was little riding in the car at night I loved seeing the trees when the headlights shone on them--I got the feeling that they had a life going on that I didn't know about; as if I had surprised them in some secret tree community life.
Years later, when droving to Vermont I would look at the elm trees that grew along Route 22-their bare branches twisting against the sky--they were so elegant, they seemed to be dancing.
I thought, and this is always a good idea--I should draw that. I went home and began to draw those trees from memory. I've never stopped drawing trees. I've had other obsessions--Baseball, the Rhino, but when I feel dried up and no ideas come, I turn to a tree, maybe an image that caught my eye in a magazine, and I get to work. As my hand moves my mind starts to wander and the ideas start to flow. Thank you, Trees.
Then all those beautiful elms began to die from Dutch elm disease. That was devastating-- was awful to see them lose their leaves in June and then have to be cut down, leaving only a stump to mark their place.
But there's hope. The elms of Central Park, in New York City, were not affected. Perhaps the disease carrying beetle couldn't make it in New York. But botanists are developing a disease resistant strain of the elm.
Yay, science! Yay, New York! As Maira Kalman, an artist and writer I greatly admire, said, "We have trees, shat else do we need?"
Read about it here: http://www.centralparknyc.org/tree-guide/american-elm.html