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Aspens

January 31, 2020

 Aspen trees grow throughout the US West, usually at altitudes of 5000 feet or more. I grew up among the aspens that grew all around our family cabin near the Idaho/Wyoming border.They always seemed special to me for their distinctive, beautiful form and color and for the sense of peace one finds in an aspen grove. Their leaves are in constant motion, providing a whispery rustling sound that is like forest spirits, softly humming bits of melody. On a hot summer day, it is cool beneath the quivering leaves of the graceful, slender trees.

 

I learned that aspens grow in clonal colonies, unlike most trees. A colony shares a huge underground root system that is a single entity from which the individual trees, all genetically identical, grow. Each tree will live for about 40 years, but the root system can live for thousands of years, constantly producing new saplings, making aspen colonies among the oldest living organisms on earth. An aspen colony located in southern Utah, known as "Pando" is thought to be the largest living organism on earth, and also possibly the oldest, dating back to the last ice age. And it appears, now, to be dying.

 

When the theme "ecosystems" was announced I was just finishing an aspen quilt, and it seemed perfect for the theme, but it was not the right size and already  committed for something else. It had been such a joy and such a sentimental piece to work on that it was an easy decision to make another aspen quilt. So this might be #2 in a whole series of aspen quilts! Aside from how interesting the biological details are, these trees are a memory of my childhood, the mountains of Idaho and happy family times. Every fall I long to be in Idaho, surrounded by red mountain maple and golden aspens under a clear blue sky. It is, possibly, the best place on earth.

 

Aspens

14.5" x 40"

Terry Grant

 

 

 

 

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