My short, personal essay “What White Tree is Blooming Now” from 2018 has just been archived online, thanks to The Hopper, an environmental literary magazine. And the timing could not be more perfect…
Here’s the first bit, to test if you’d like to read more:
It started. The procession of trees. The trees don’t move, but the white does: white tree blossoms, from species to species.
First, in late February and if not charred by sleet, come white flowers of star magnolia.
Stinky Bradford pears are next, trees so ubiquitous in corporate landscapes (and invasive in natural ones) that when they froth white, even people who don’t notice trees notice.
Then, dogwood. Everyone loves dogwood.
Serviceberry, hawthorn, black cherry, yellowwood, black locust, and so on, week by week of the rolling spring, one white tree bloom after the other. It won’t stop till summer, and by then, who is watching? By then, Nashville is a weedy jungle and we stay inside to escape the chiggers.
But I’ll be watching. The procession is important. There are rules: only white, only trees, and only where I can see them while I go about my business.
The piece is about using one particular, arbitrary framework—what white tree is blooming now—to keep track of the year.
For me, keeping track of seasons is a must.
It’s how I know where I am and who I am.
This is not a How-To article, it’s an essay / “creative nonfiction.”
I do 3 kinds of Nature Writing:
- Sidewalk Nature (this blog) = quick dispatches from the neighborhood, the yard, Nashville, any nearby nature. (Please subscribe below)
- Instagram (@Jo_Brichetto) = even quicker dispatches of nearby nature. (Please Follow.)
- Essays = creative nonfiction in literary journals and hopefully soon . . . a BOOK.
Paradise in a Parking Lot is my almanac of 52 short, personal essays. It’s under consideration at a few publishers. (Please wish me luck and then read the book.)
Where is Nashville right this minute in the What White Tree framework?
Today, I see:
American Fringe Tree,
Wild Black Cherry: all natives.
Next up will be Catalpa . .
If you’ve got a few moments to spare, I invite you to read “What White Tree is Blooming Now.”
N.B. The essay was published in the 2018 print edition of The Hopper III. I announced it here at the time (which was when the only white tree blooming was Crepe Myrtle), but the piece wasn’t online until this week. Thank you, Hopper editors!
My screenshot of the journal page includes part of an artwork editors chose for that issue. It’s botanical cyanotype, and you’ll see the whole image at the link for the essay. Here’s the artist’s description and website: Alexis Doshas / Poppy Seed Heads (Papaver orientale), Botanical cyanotype, 14 x 16 in., 2015.
Photo Credit: Joanna Brichetto. Can you name all four white trees blooming in the pic?
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Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist and writer in Nashville, the hackberry-tree capital of the world.
She writes about everyday natural wonders amid every habitat loss, and her essays have appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Fourth Genre, Hippocampus, The Hopper, Flyway, The Common, City Creatures, The Fourth River and other journals.