Around the Neighborhood 1: A Tree

comments 26
California / Inspiration / Photography / Positivity


July 14, 2019, Los Gatos Creek Trail. For the past several weeks I’ve been in a mode of weekly themes. It does give me a focus, so I’ll continue — but this one is different: it’s a smattering of what I’ve shot in and near my neighborhood in the past week or so. Not deathless photography, but it does make a nice potpourri. In many cases it proves the adage, the best camera is the one you have with you.

Most recent one first, shot with my phone yesterday on a Sunday morning walk. I’m generally adamant in my view that tree carving is unacceptable, but for this one I’ll make an exception. I hope the tree is proud to carry this message.

(iPhone 8. Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. The message is aspirational, but to what extent is it true? Even in our own lifetime we find no shortage of dictators who kept up their tyranny for decades and managed to die a natural death. From their point of view, they won.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do believe we could talk deep into the night about the historical validity (or not) of this tree carving’s message. If, however, we let this message inform our attitudes, aspirations, and actions we stand at least a chance of making it true. If we don’t we won’t.


  2. I am also not a fan of tree carving which can often let in some disease vector. It’s hard to find fault with the carver’s expression and, I guess, the idea is to get the message across so making an exception seems appropriate. Like Steve mentions, it does seem that, in the short term anyway, tyranny sometimes survives a despot’s life. But I think in the end society wins over the dictator. At least some societies. There are some where the history doesn’t allow for freedom and I think one of our government’s biggest errors in recent memory is the idea that we can impose democracy in places where it cannot stand on its own. The best of intentions (although most often the motivation is more selfish than altruistic) doesn’t always work out for the best.

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    • I agree with you that forcing a political (or any) philosophy down the throats of other nations, cultures, or individuals is folly.

      Please see my reply to Mr. Schwartzman.

      I do hope that the tree remains healthy.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m aware of two recent books full of statistics to support the contention that in our lifetime the world has gotten noticeably better:

      Factfulness, by Rosling;
      Enlightenment Now, by Pinker.

      I’ve heard people argue that some places have no tradition of freedom and aren’t ready for self-government. I’ve also heard people argue that the very fact of being human makes people capable of freedom and self-government.

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      • In many ways that may be true, Steve. But when one looks at the hatred and violence occurring almost daily in the world now it is hard to remain optimistic about the future. I am sure the authors of those books can present many examples of improvements in our world, ease of communication, health advances etc, but for many people those advancements don’t exist or are made more difficult to experience than necessary. I try to remain positive about our lives ahead but paying any attention to what’s happening around us, even if it isn’t at this time affecting us personally, is spiritually painful.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I will have to look at these books before I can make an informed comment. It is obvious to anyone who is even semi-conscious that there is a daunting amount of negativity being flung around these days. History may show that the message carved into the tree is wishful thinking. But I am certain of one thing: Hate and intolerance are degrading both for the sender and receiver. For the receiver, it is obvious. For the sender, it may not be so obvious, but nonetheless the sender in displaying such attitudes is admitting that this is the best he or she can do; and that displays, and in many instances even boasts of, an extreme mental and spiritual disability. These people eventually lose, badly, although they may not realize it until they take their final breath.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree that the degradation works both ways but, sadly, the ones who most suffer are the receivers. Unless the givers end up in therapy later in life I don’t really think they have any awareness of the damage they do to themselves. I believe most every MAGA hat wearer shouting “Lock her up” or “Send her back” feels pretty special about their meanness after one of those rallies.

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      • I don’t disagree with anything you say here. I’ll go further than that. I agree. What must it be like to be one of those people? There is so much going on in the world that they do not understand — and not understanding any of it they feel victimized by all of it. That causes them to lessen their awareness even more. It’s a dwindling spiral. Although they are walking around, they are barely alive. They are terrified. The most alive they can feel is to be mean and lash out at the people and things they don’t understand. Horrible. They are sunk. They just don’t know it.

        I prefer to associate with people who are more alive. That’s why am here. I’m not a Bible scholar but I do agree that it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Every time you share an image, you light a candle. Keep doing it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m no psychologist, but I imagine haters can have two responses. Their immediate would be some form of euphoria for having expressed the turmoil within themselves. The second must be a feeling of loneliness and loss for having so much in the way of negative activity in their mind and soul. I’d rather have the positive feeling of respecting all and trying to buoy society in some small way, in my case photography and the occasional not very funny joke. I appreciate our agreement.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. Please see my reply to Steve. As a general strategy for life, I’d rather counter the negativity in the world with something positive.


  3. It’s beautifully framed and processed, and the message is important, but….I’d be happier if the person hadn’t felt the need to carve it into a tree. Still, you couldn’t have done a better job with the photo. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes, hatred does win: by destroying the person who loves the sense of power — the adrenalin rush — that hatred can provide. I’ve known people destroyed by addiction to their own hatred, and it’s a terrible thing to witness. In the process, they carve up those around them like that unknown hand carved the tree: only the message varies.

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