Sometimes the biggest gems arrive in the smallest packages. Such is the case with this month’s book–and this isn’t an April Fools’ Day joke, though I did briefly consider posting an upside-down photo of the cover.


I picked up this copy of  TREES and SHRUBS of NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND at a book swap during the Maine Master Naturalist Program’s first conference this past year. This third edition was compiled by Frederic L. Steele, Chairman of the Science Department, St. Mary’s-in-the-Mountains, Littleton, NH, and Albion R. Hodgdon, Professor of Botany, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, and published in 1975 by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

One of the things I like about it is that it measures 4.5 x 7 inches and fits easily into my pack. Plus, it includes more shrubs than many of my current books.


And check this out from the introduction: “In the preparation of this guide, the authors have received help and encouragement from a number of people. The following, in particular, should be mentioned . . . Mrs. Priscilla Kunhardt and Miss Pamela Bruns have done the illustrations . . . ” Mrs. and Miss! Ah, what happened to those days?

t-quaking description

The descriptions are not lengthy, but enough for a quick reference. I choose the Trembling Aspen, which I’ve learned as Quaking Aspen (I know–that’s the problem with common names say my Latin-oriented friends) because two are located right out the back door. They are the trees of life in our yard.

t-catkins forming

Catkins slowly emerge from waxy-coated buds

qa 1

and grow longer with lengthening days.

qa 5

Tufts of hair adorn tiny seeds.


Soon, leaves on flat stems quake in the breeze,


until visitors arrive.

t-leaf eaters

Very hungry caterpillars.


They aren’t the only ones. Porcupines nip off branches.


Eventually, leaves that survive fall to the ground.

t-hairy woodpeckers

All year long, birds visit to dine


and view the world.


The world looks back.


Ice slowly melts

qa 2

and life continues.

TREES and SHRUBS of NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND doesn’t include photos, but that’s OK because I have my own. Instead, as any good guide, it’s a jumping off place. So many books, so much different information–and sometimes guides contradict each other. Just the same, I love to read them and then to pay attention. For me, it’s all about forever learning. And wondering.

TREES and SHRUBS of NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND, by Frederic L. Steel and Albion R. Hodgdon, Society for the Protection on Northern Forests, 1975.