For my synthesis project, I wrote a few paragraphs summarizing some themes of the book with an accompanying image that I felt represented what I wrote. [See as follows:]
“We use our backyard as a toolkit, often without fully understanding what we’re taking, what we’re using, and what value it has. Everywhere we look around us, there are tress, but not standing tall and majestic like they usually do when they’re overlooking their earthen kingdom– we see them in forms of things we write with, what we write on, what we use to clean things, and what we use to shelter us from nature’s tempest by giving us a roof and foundation. Trees, especially in the past, were seen as objects to be taken at our leisure, a profit, and an economic gain to be capitalized on. But they are not only trees. To the Haida, trees have ethereal value, and when they are used as totem poles, their beauty is still preserved and used also to preserve other things.
As we learn throughout the course of this harrowing journey of the book, everything, like the trees, has a supernatural equivalent and everything is interconnected. But we also learn that the dichotomy between things can be defined, whether it be between night and day, earth and ocean, or the supernatural and the real worlds.
By taking an axe, unforgiving and harsh in nature, to the trunk of the hallowed golden spruce, a symbol of resurrection and even resilience (because the mortality rates of saplings were against this tree, same as any other), Grant Hadwin (who himself was a study in contrast– a logger who believed more so in the preservation of trees, the ecosystems that relied on the trees, and the ethereal beauty of the woods) cut down the barriers between both dichotomy and interconnectedness– by falling the tree, he gave way to the logging mindset, but he also showed the unity between trees by treating it the same as the ones fallen before it.
In the end, there was no good way to about approaching this issue. Although Grant Hadwin succeeded in uniting so many peoples, what he did was also drastic– cutting down a tree of high moral and spiritual value. Cutting it down killed it, but it saved it from living a life only preserved by being considered a pet.”
The main theme I focused on was the dichotomy and interconnectedness found throughout the book, and how the almost ironic preservation of the “special tree” was such a prominent issue when meanwhile, “regular” trees are being used like disposable resources. In the first paragraph I talked about using our backyard mindlessly, and how we always admire trees (“majestic”; “earthen kingdom”) by likening them to royalty, but how there are trees all around us that we use everyday (pencils, paper, paper towels, and houses). I then talked about how trees were a focal point of economic gain for the loggers, but something to be revered by the Haida. The trees, I stated, were used responsibly, and when they were used to make totem poles, their beauty was still preserved by combining it with the beauty of capturing something else.
The big theme was that Grant Hadwin, a concentrated force of what was both in tune with nature and an instrument of mankind, was a conflict in himself. [See footnote] His action, cutting down the spruce destroyed the barriers of both division and unity. By cutting down the tree, like of all the trees before it, he achieved two things: 1. Subjecting the golden spruce (“the hallowed golden spruce, a symbol of resurrection and even resilience”) to its untimely death, using an axe (“an axe, unforgiving and harsh in nature”), he committed an act that further separated the natural world from the man-made; 2. By falling the tree, like the many before it, he broke the division between the Golden Spruce and all its predecessors, creating unity and a level of equality, if you will, between the trees. By doing what he did, he brought together bands of people of different creeds, beliefs, and goals. Too bad it took such drastic actions to do it.
Looking at the picture, there are two main elements that I wanted to highlight. The picture as a whole was a line drawing, meaning I kept my pencil on the paper for the whole drawing (Which was no easy feat, considering I had to keep the red pen on the same line as well), which represented the inter-connectivity between all objects and life forces. The difference in colour, however, symbolized a contrasting theme: the divisions between forces (life and death, nature and man, land and sea, etc.), with nature being represented by pencil and man/materialism represented by red pen.
In the tree, I connected several words in the middle of the branches, which were just a small detail. The words that were put in are as follows: hope, Haida, resilience, spirituality, unity, balance, interconnectedness. The words don’t necessarily relate to what I wrote entirely, but I picked them up while reading the book.
The axe, as can be seen, is sticking out of the trunk of the tree, with red dripping out of the “wound”. I put the blood on the trunk and on the surrounding stumps to symbolize the marks left behind by the logging industry. You can also see that the foremost stump has a log right in front of it, drawn in red. At first, I didn’t know if I wanted to have it coloured that way, but I realized that categorizing it as a material made the image more powerful. After all, the logging companies basically stamped their names on the trees, so I wanted to show that through making that log red. This shows that, although it’s an object of nature, as soon as it’s cut down, it becomes something to be used for consumer use.
*As a side note, I wanted to try and draw Grant Hadwin chopping down the tree, and draw him in both grey and red to denote that he is both a force of nature and man, with the interests of both parties at heart. (Somewhere along the line I realized I’m terrible at drawing people so for the sake of aesthetics I left him out.)