Thanksgiving and the Sacred Birches

The Sacred Birches, Lanesville, circa 1900 John I. Coggeshall/@Fredrik D. Bodin
Many of my best Thanksgivings have included a walk in the woods, notably among birches. Birch trees were among the first trees to grow after the last ice age, and are the national tree of Russia, symbolizing fertility, renewal, and miracles. They’ve been revered by many cultures since the ancient Celts, including the Finns, Swedes, and Norwegians, who settled here on Cape Ann. Birch groves in Dogtown and Lanesville are still highly regarded. At the turn of the century, John I. Coggeshall photographed these birches near his Lanesville home. I hope to find them after turkey dinner with friends in the Plum Cove neighborhood. If you know where this treed slope is, please let me know.
Printed from the original 8×10 inch negative in my darkroom. Image # A93810-007
I’m not a big poetry reader, but one particular verse from Robert Burns struck a chord with me, and I recite it at meals such as Thanksgiving:
A Scottish Grace

Some have meat and cannot eat
And some have none and want it
But we have meat and we can eat
So the Lord we thanketh.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Fredrik D. Bodin
Bodin Historic Photo
82 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

5 thoughts on “Thanksgiving and the Sacred Birches

  1. Neat information about the beeches being the first tree to arrive after the ice age. I bet you could never find the exact place since those beeches grow like weeds. You might find the stumps and the third generation of suckers growing off the roots 50 feet high.


  2. Hi Fred and Paul–So very beautiful–paper birch trees (Betula papyrifera) are pioneer species and rarely live longer than 80 years. Although short-lived, the family Betula plays an important role in the ecosystem as it is the caterpillar food plant for over 400 species of butterflies, moths, and skippers, including Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Mourning Cloak, Red-spotted Purple, and Dreamy Duskywing! xo and Happy Thanksgiving!


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