Outdoors Magazine

Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal

Posted on the 12 October 2019 by Hollis

Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal

Treefollowing on a cold windy day—note bundled-up photographer reflected in window.

Back in March, I decided to follow a pair of hawthorns growing next to the building that houses the Department of Visual and Literary Arts at the University of Wyoming. By July, I had concluded these most likely were Russian Hawthorns, Crataegus ambigua, following suggestions of several readers; also, Russian Hawthorn cultivars are popular in Wyoming. But I still haven’t checked with the University landscaping folks for confirmation.

Despite the severe cold last week (low of 0º F, -18º C), my hawthorns were covered in leaves—a mix of dull green and several shades of reddish brown.

Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal
Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal
With their haws fully ripe, these trees revealed that they are more productive than I had thought. But they still are slackers compared with their fecund neighbors!
Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal
Above and below: my hawthorns.
Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal
Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal
Above and below: neighboring hawthorns loaded with ripe haws.
Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal
One reason I chose these hawthorns over several other candidate trees on campus was their proximity to the Arts building—a pleasant and interesting place to duck out of the wind, cold, rain, etc. There are several galleries, display cases in the lobby, and works of art scattered through and outside of the building. Not knowing much about art, I've enjoyed expanding my horizons.The inclusion of literary art intrigued me. When I first visited, I assumed this piece on display in the lobby was an example:

Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal

Literary art?

Or perhaps the works currently in the main gallery—Joanne Kluba’s Artist Books:

Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal

L’Atlantide, Artist Book; Joanne Kluba, 2003.

Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal

Mindfullness, Artist Book; Joanne Kluba, 2006.

But no. Literary Art refers to creative writing, which was transferred from the English Department just recently. This is where Wyoming coal comes in.Wyoming’s economy is being hit hard with the decline of coal, a major source of state income. Multiple big mines have closed, their companies now in bankruptcy, including Peabody Energy—made famous in John Prine’s Paradise.
Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal
As a result, the University of Wyoming has cut and reorganized programs. Though the English Department still exists, creative writing was put in Visual Arts—no idea why. At least it wasn't eliminated, as was poetry.

Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal

Departmental sign not yet updated.


Treefollowing, Literary Art & Wyoming Coal
This is my contribution to the monthly virtual gathering of treefollowers, kindly hosted by The Squirrel Basket. Consider joining us! It's always interesting and fun—and no pressure :)

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