Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Scarred American Beech

Why do we deface our mature American Beech Trees? And why do we think that we have to leave our names everywhere? (I'm apparently guilty as my name is on the tree too, via my watermark!) Almost eleven years ago to the day, I was sitting on a portable stool with my fellow Hiram College students in Carnarvon Gorge National Park in Australia. A ranger who was introducing us to the ecology and geology of hte park gave us a strong, almost accusatory warning that we Americans can't write on trees and cliff faces in Australia like we do in the USA. I've thought about this ever since, and I just don't get it. What compels us to do this? It's obviously ingrained into our culture, I'm not exactly sure how it started, and I don't see any sign of it stopping.



  1. I don't get that, either & it's always bothered me greatly. Sometimes people just plain suck.

  2. Agreed. This didn't generate much discussion, but I really don't understand the cultural history or reasons behind this graffiti.

  3. You have wonderful photos on your blog. Hope you read this since it is a few days old now.

    I have also wondered about engraving names onto natural objects. It is something that goes way back too. Think about the Oregon Trail, Independence Rock, Pompey's Pillar and all the other spots along the way where people stopped to chronicle their movement and record their names. The same is true for the exploration of the Green and Colorado River in the West, Powell and his crew inscribed their names and dates along the way.

    Even in places like the rural midwest, where there are no prominent features to record names, city water towers reach up with the city name painted at the top. Why? Is it to be recognized?

    It is an interesting phenomenon that seems largely American.

    Actually, I kind of feel inspired to write my own post about this subject now!

    Glad I stumbled upon your page!

  4. Jason, thank you very much. I'm notified via e-mail whenever anyone comments on my blog, so I read them all and try to respond to as many as I can get to. Here in Ohio, where there were some outcroppings, early settlers left there mark. Some rock outcroppings were even "blown up" for fun. It's just crazy, it does seem largely American, and I look forward to reading your post.