Tree Magic (2): Ivan Was Here

This distinctive tree trunk caught my attention while wandering through the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Notice the inscription at the bottom of the picture. Ivan was here and wanted you to know.

yellow and green bark

A sturdy tree trunk mirrors our own spine, the structure that keeps our human body erect. We can still sway and bend with the wind. But a strong spine, a solid backbone, is essential for weathering the storms of life. The ability to stand grounded and resolute; the inner strength to brace the force of the windstorms life sends our way.

Someone scratched the name “Ivan” into this tree. What moves us to leave our name behind on trees, rocks, walls or bridges? If my name is written on a tree, does it mean that I am real, that I have affirmed my right to exist? Instead of 5 minutes of fame on TV, my name will possibly survive for decades and provide living proof of my existence when etched into the bark of a tree.

Or might this have been Ivan’s attempt to connect with the tree, forge a relationship by leaving his imprint, a small part of himself and his experience there in Albuquerque, with the tree?
Now I will always wonder who this Ivan was and why he felt the urge to share his name, using the tree as a lingering platform to propel himself into the future.

The DP Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror.

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30 Responses to Tree Magic (2): Ivan Was Here

  1. bythebriny says:

    Fantastic colours, almost looks like peeling paint.


    • Yes, I am in love with those brilliant colors. I’ve never seen bark colors green and yellow like this. I suspect that it is some kind of a sycamore tree and they do lose their outer layers of bark like “peeling paint.”


  2. Dalo 2013 says:

    The analogy of being able to “sway and bend with the wind” as necessary with the storms of life, but keep the spine strong like this tree here. Pure and clean helps 🙂 Would rather see Ivan work on his on spine instead of defacing something beautiful…but then again, as you say, who knows what he was thinking…something we’ll always wonder.


    • Fortunately, Ivan’s “signature” was relatively small….I didn’t actually notice it until I uploaded my picture and started working with it. Yes, it would have been nice if he could have just enjoyed the beauty and uniqueness of the tree instead of carving into it. Some humans aren’t made of that mind set 😦


  3. lazyhaze says:

    I always hated seeing people scrath their names on to classroom walls, tree trunks, historical monuments etc. You just gave me a different point of view. Thank you.


  4. Donna King says:

    A name etched in a tree. How interesting and fun to muse about it. I think it is probably one of the many ways we express our yearning for immortality. Most trees around us, if they live out their full life spans, will outlive us…sometimes by decades or even centuries. Who knows how many people have experienced Ivan’s signature, there, in that tree? I wonder how much older Ivan is now. How has he changed since carving his name there? By the way, the bark of the tree is fascinating. It is colorful and tells its own story.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres says:

    Just to the right of Ivan’s name, the whitish imperfection in the bark looks like a human spine. It’s a beautiful tree, no doubt: to my way of seeing things, not at all marred by Ivan’s name.

    I hate when spots that receive a lot of tourists are truly marred by name carvers, but it’s an old, old practice: probably as old as humanity. One of the most interesting examples I’ve seen is Pawnee Rock in Kansas. A prominent landmark on the Santa Fe trail, it’s basically sandstone, which makes it perfect for name-carving. In 1846, Susan Shelby Magoffin carved her name there, just before fleeing some marauding Indians. In 1848, James Birch, a soldier on his way to the Mexican War, wrote: “Pawnee Rock was covered with names carved by the men who had passed it. It was so full that I could find no place for mine.”

    I’m glad your post reminded me of all this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I remember some “modern” inscriptions in the rocks of Canyon de Chelly, from one of the soldiers that attacked the Navajos and drove them from their land in the 1800s. And then, of course, all the petroglyphs that date back centuries. And the ancient caves dating back to Cro Magnon times in Southern France and elsewhere. You are right, we’ve always tried to leave traces on whatever surfaces we could find. Some of these traces qualify as “art”, others are simply “graffiti.”


  6. Lovely photo, tree, and bark Annette. Thanks for sharing the beauty. May we leave our marks in the heart of others. blessings, Brad


  7. bingskee says:

    perhaps to leave a mark, no matter how futile the effort was.


  8. I remember as a child finding beech trees that were literally covered from the roots to as far as one could reach with carvings. Beeches have the misfortune of being super smooth lending themselves to name and initial writing often centered within a heart. Now there has been a wave of ageless monuments in national parks being defaced by folks…those who get caught spend time in lockup and pay fines. Personally, I hate to see anything altered in a natural environment for personal entertainment. In my favorite local spot, the Quabbin Reservoir, we are finding literally hundreds, possibly thousands, of stacked stones along the water’s edge. Aside from the eyesore quality, those moved rocks often expose small creatures to an environment that is very hostile. Anyway, that’s my gripe with carved initials etc.

    That is a lovely tree. Do you know the species?


  9. Rajagopal says:

    Beautiful reflections around a tree, Annette, ranging from analogy of the trunk and human spine pointing to determined face against struggles and resoluteness in overcoming difficulties, to pondering over an unknown Ivan featured on the bark. I have seen barks bearing names of lovers etched in an emblematic heart with an arrow depicted as passing through it. It may also be that the bark should reveal not merely age of the tree but hopes of unknown Ivans and trysting lovers…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mack says:

    This is so interesting! I think that sometimes our desire to make a mark on this world can take place in such a humble place as nature. I bet Ivan never truly thought we would be sparking deep conversation around the meaning of it all. I recently went to Albuquerque and was incredibly fascinated by the beautiful culture!


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