Series: Found

My mother was awed by American Chestnut trees, and was determined that her children knew of their grandeur. So she trooped us all into the forests near home to find what she would call the “old soldiers.” What was left of the chestnut trees were giant craters of bark, eight feet in diameter, sometimes twenty feet high. It was clear to us that we were to honor these monuments and NOT see them as forts, even though we wanted to explore the cavernous middles that had eroded away. These paintings are entirely from my memories .

Chestnut trees once dominated the east coast forests, looming well above the oaks and maples. But around 1900, a blight came and slowly they nearly all died. It was a crop that kept many animals, including human animals, alive. Botanists are working on finding a way to rebuild the population, and luckily, some stands of the trees have been found that continue to flourish. But not many.

One thing I love, is that the seemingly dead roots sometimes send up shoots of living material that will grow quite tall and sturdy. These trees will not bear fruit, but they give science time to find a way to save these beautiful trees.

Janet Stoeke

Janet Stoeke is a full time artist living in Fairfax, VA.  Much of her newest work can be viewed at the Artists’ Undertaking Gallery 309 Mill Street, Occoquan Historic District, VA 

Photo by Suz Redfearn

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