Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Metaphor: The Tree of Utah (Or, What I Did Last Summer)

Also called the "Tree of Life," this tree is 87 feet tall, made of 225 tons of cement, 2,000 ceramic tiles, 5 tons of welding rod, and tons of native Utah rocks. This huge sculpture is found 95 miles west of Salt Lake City on the Bonneville Salt Flats, and was made by Swedish artist Karl Momen (Momen, not Mormon)in the 1980's. The inscription on the trunk of the tree is Schiller's Ode to Joy as sung in the choral climax of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, you know, Mortals join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began; Father love is reigning o'er us, brother love binds man to man. Something like that. Anyway, he thought of it as "A hymn to our universe whose glory and dimension is beyond all myth and imagination." The mountain ranges in the background are sunken in mirages of the phantom Lake Bonneville. Lots of folks don't like this tree, stuck out here in the middle of nothing, and make jokes, but I think it's cool.

Of course, Bonneville Salt Flats used to be an ancient lake, created by receding glaciers some 14,500 years ago, covering 20,000 square miles in Utah, and parts of Idaho and Nevada, and because it had no outlet, it left this vast white desert -- as well as what's left of the Great Salt Lake. This is also where Burt Munro set his land speed records with his Indian motorcycle as made famous in the film "The World's Fastest Indian." A fantastic movie, by the way, if you haven't seen it, do! And, people out here do what people do everywhere, leave a graffiti of names etc written in rocks, beer bottles, whatever, all along the edges.

THe Nevada side of the desert was blooming golden with sunflowers, blond Indian rice grass, sagebrush, and wild mustard.

I am always amazed by the volcanic formations that make up so much of Idaho and Oregon. Wouldn't it have been a spectacular show when it was all hot and active, from Yellowstone all the way through Oregon to the Pacific ocean???

Some wildflowers from Oregon. And a waterfall. Oregon abounds in waterfalls! The Saturday Market was full of flowers and fruits and vegetables and music.

Earlier in the summer we spent a week in Minnesota, which you can find here. (See June, 2006, The North Woods). It's all metaphor for things whose "glory and dimension is beyond all myth and imagination."


Tammy said...

Very cool! Thank you for sharing your summer :) Beautiful shots!

silverlight said...

Thank you visiting my blog. I'[m glad you enjoyed it.
I've not been to Utah. It has quite a variety of flora and landscape. And not what I expected. Interesting.

k said...

That volcanic action in Idaho really threw me a few years back, traveling through. Some of the rocks decorating my yard are those Idaho lavas.

Turquoise CRO said...

WOWIEEEEEEEE!!! I'd love to have seen this tree!! I think it's GREAT! Thanks for letting me know about it!

Anonymous said...

I think that tree is so cool, too, Pepek! Next time we are down by SLC I'm going to steer the car towards the lake, no matter if Tim says we're in a hurry to get somewhere else. Or not! I want to see it in real life, up close and personal. thanks for posting that photo - now I see waht you mean, the connection between this "tree" and the memorial tree I posted is definitely there. Partly because of the inscription. It's an unusual and interesting piece.

I always think of memorials as not something for the dead person they commemorate ... but more as something for those who are still living, to remember their loved ones ... through memory and thus, through love ... you keep the spirit of that person you love -- alive inside you -- by remembering and by loving. Memorials reminds us to keep that connection -- that bond -- going through our love. Just as Schiller wrote brother love binds man to man... well, our love binds person to person, no matter if they are alive or dead.

oh yeah and we've seen The World's Fastest Indian ... it's a wonderful film. Anthony Hopkins is a fantastic actor -- but then, he had a great story to act!

You have such a descriptive way with words -- your words paint a rich picture in my mind of the late desert wildflowers, blond rice grass against the golden yellow and bluegray -- what a GREAT color combination painted by you with help from Mother Nature ... i can totally see it in my mind.

it's been awhile since i've visited your blog, but I'm glad to have come today. hugs!