The Matriarch of the Forest

The poem in this book was written by Abigail Rorer to commemorate a magnificent white pine growing in the protected woods behind her house where she frequently walks with her friend. She draws parallels between the aging of this tree and her attempts to reconcile it with her own aging.  Abigail also did the engravings for the book- another means of memorializing this tree. An afterword has been added in a separate folder to further clarify one of the images in the book.

Standing separate and huge in the New England woods behind my property, among much smaller trees and slightly off the trail, is a massive white pine. It’s difficult to tell the tree’s age but it must be measured in centuries since it would require the arm spans of six or seven people to encircle it. It was essentially hidden in the forest until the hurricane of 1938, which devastated the New England forests. The tree was first identified by a resident of our town when he made his way through the devastated forest to assess the destruction. As he told the story, he thought that he was approaching a stand of white pines, but instead he found a single majestic white pine with multiple trunks arising from a massive base. I first came upon it about 40 years ago and immediately started sketching and photographing it. I frequently walk these woods with a friend, and this tree has taken on a parallel journey with us as we grow older. Just recently, in 2021, as I write this update to the book that I first published in 2009, the tree is seriously rotting and decaying, massive branches have broken off and there is only one large branch left with any live needles. It’s happening very quickly- too quickly.

6.75 x 7.25 inches. 12 pages. Four engravings, one with hand-coloring, and two spot engravings by Abigail Rorer. Typography and text printing by Michael Russem. Perpetua types cast by Michael and Winifred Bixler. Printed on Zerkall. Paper cover over boards with a linen spine and engraved medallion on the cover. Binding designed and executed by Amy Borezo of Shelter Bookworks. Edition of 66 copies of which 56 regular copies come in a slipcase with the Afterword essay, and 10 deluxe copies come in a special binding with the book, the Afterword, and a suite of prints. Regular edition: $185. Deluxe edition is sold out.