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The trees of the hills and rocky pastures have a different character from their fatly nourished brothers of the plain, and, as among men, they are often less beautiful and more interesting. The red cedar, which starts life as a tiny seedling in the sediment of a rain pool on top of a boulder, and survives by sending its roots down around the very rock till it seems, in the course of a century, to clasp the rock with crooked hands, as an eagle might hold a ball in its claws, usually develops a rough sturdiness of trunk and very often a twisted formation of growth which suggest almost human qualities of aggressiveness and tenacity. Such a tree seems actually to have wrestled with its environment, and put its enemies underfoot. It is to the upland hard woods, too, that all boys know they must go for nuts. Did not the finest chestnuts always grow on a hill? And what man is so poor in memories that he cannot recall those golden October mornings when there was frost in the air, and the pungent smell of dried sweet-fern, and up among the boulders the gray hickories, still flaunting a few yellow leaves, had shed their store? The nut-tree has a certain rough, scraggly quality, a clean, hard, wiry, knotted character, that exactly comports with boulder-strewn pastures, a keen October sky, and the autumn wind piping over the hilltops.
The canoe birch, too, is essentially an upland tree; it does not thrive near sealevel, at any rate in Massachusetts. Farther north it creeps down nearer the coast. The birch, above all our American trees, delights in theatrical effects. And if that sentence is objected to on the ground of "pathetic fallacy," we will commit the whole sin at once, and add that it is the most feminine of trees. In earliest spring, when the hepaticas are pushing up last year's leaves, and our Berkshire mountain-sides are donning their frail, delicate veils of color, the young birches are conspicuous for the startling brightness of their new foliage, a green so much lighter and more vivid than all the other greens that it would arrest attention even if it
were not borne on a snow-white stem. Your young birch has all the daring of a débutante. Later, when the summer thunder-storms come, the birch has another trick up its sleeve. Some afternoon a dark, gun-metal thunder-head will mass behind the crest of a hill, and suddenly an old birch on the summit will leap into startling prominence, so that it focuses the entire attention, like a single splendid streak of chalk-white lightning. Again, in midwinter, when the birch by rights should be protectively colored and inconspicuous, it is the other trees we do not notice, and the birch which rises by the edge of the frozen stream, perhaps, or against the dark wall of the pines, and displays all its snowy limbs to best advantage against evergreen or sky.
Only the sycamore has a bark which can rival the birch for showy effect; yet how different are the two trees! It has never occurred to any one to call the sycamore a feminine tree. It is large, dignified, masculine, and totally unaware of the picturesque effect created by its tortuous branches and its great mottled patches of grayish-white bark alternating with brown. When all is said, the birch is a vain tree; but we must also admit it has a right to be, and we cannot scold it, either, it wears its white betimes with such an air of virgin innocence.
Many years ago a lover of trees in the village where my boyhood was passed prepared a little booklet describing and picturing a score or so of the finest trees in the township. Only the other day I came across a copy after the lapse of more than two decades. I sat down to its pages as to a feast. Yes, there was the old Cap'n George Bacheldor sassafras, the largest in the State, sixty-two feet high! How familiar it looked! How my tongue could taste again the aroma of the chips hacked with a jack-knife from its roots! And here, on the next page, was the Deacon Emerson oak, growing between the barn and the house, and throwing mottled. shadows over both, a mighty spread, indeed. I could hear the horses stamping in the barn, I could smell the hay, I could