Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Bird Cherry Tree 1885

Here Levitan has painted a Bird Cherry Tree (Prunus padus)growing in someone's front yard behind a picket fence. Some Bird Cherry research yielded the following: Bird Cherry may also be called Hackberry or Hagberry and grows below the Arctic Circle in Northern Europe: the British Isles, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Seven to forty feet tall, Bird Cherry's highly fragrant flowers bloom May through June. Its shiny-black, bitter fruit, while edible, would more likely be eaten by birds than people. We'd be apt to find it growing along the edges of streams, in water thickets and at the margins of the forest. Isn't it wonderful to know something about a tree, rather than just seeing it and walking by?

Levitan really wants us to notice and appreciate the tree itself, so he has left the background indistinct, more like an atmosphere, sense or impression. I expect he'd be glad for us to join him, inhaling deeply as we approach the tree. We remember Moses being awestruck by the burning bush which was not consumed. And here we would be in awe of the Bird Cherry's perfume. Of course, the tree is fragrant to entice pollinating insects, but it draws us as well, who have the soul-power of appreciating flower-fragrance for its own sake. 

On day three of creation: " The Lord God made all kinds of trees to grow out of the ground - trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food." Genesis 2:9. Pleasing to the nose too. And "good for food" may mean food for animals not just people. We share this planet with millions, billions, of other living things. We're imperiled when we forget or ignore that. 

I want my powers of perception and appreciation to expand and deepen. That's a big part of what makes someone truly human - to acknowledge and delight in all that God has made.


  1. I like that Levitan has focused solely on the tree. It says to the world that it is important for all that it has to offer even if it isn't the prettiest, or doesn't offer the sweetest fruit. We all have something to give and all gifts should be appreciated.

  2. Looking for the gifts people have to offer: that would go a long way in turning back the negativity which has seized us.

  3. The tree is behind a fence and standing guard in front of a house. Maybe it gives shade to a family on a warm summer day, drawing the birds in with their cheerful melodies. Everything living thing must have even the smallest gift to offer. How sweet that thought is. I can feel just the littlest bit of negativity leaving me right now.

  4. AA says: "The thing you pay attention to increases." I like that.