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Spring Gillard
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The Miracle Tree

My friend David Tracey is a tree nut. He’s the Executive Director of Tree City, a group that gets neighbours together with neighbours and fires them up about tending the urban forest. He is a certified tree care expert. Or so the International Society of Arboriculture says. He consults on organic tree care. I went with him once to one of Cam MacDonald’s backyard gardens (see our podcast, Out in a Yard, July 8/09) to diagnose a sick pear tree. Pear trellis rust. Advanced stages. Prognosis not good. He also made a house call for me recently. Gave me advice on pruning the blueberry bushes on my balcony. “Don’t bother,” he said, “they want to be bushes, let them be bushes.”

thompson_katsura_leaves_aux_imgIt is handy to have a tree expert as a friend. I ask him all my tree questions. Like the one I asked this fall:

Spring: Can you tell me what the tree is that was dropping lovely yellow roundish (silver dollar size) leaves in the fall? The trees are all over Kits [short for Kitsilano], they line 4th Ave.

David: hard to say w/o seeing. might be katsura, they turn lovely yellow/orange colours in fall. also smell like caramel from a distance. Here’s a pic.

Spring: I think that’s it! Are they quite common in Van [short for Vancouver] then?

David: becoming more common as people (and the park board) catch on to what a fab [short for fabulous] tree it is.

Spring: But the trees along 4th and around Kits are pretty old and established.

David: there are streets in van with mature katsura. do yours look like this?

And he sent me a link to an article titled Caramel Hearts Fall from the Katsura. Who could resist?

He’s already got one book under his belt. The Guerilla Gardener, A Manualfesto that promotes “random acts of gardening” and naturally has some tree stuff in it. But now he’s wandered into the fiction forest with The Miracle Tree. A novel that he’s just published on-line with Smashwords. There are several formats to download. He’ll have a print-on-demand version soon. Here’s what it’s about:

A young reporter has some sharp lessons to learn when he gets sent to cover a tree that might make wishes come true. Hope, race, love and redemption play out amid a media circus in this laugh-out-loud comedy of ill manners.

Robert Ouimet (the illustrious producer of our kind-of-in-hiatus podcast Can Urban Agriculture Save the World?) called him up to chat about it for his BrainPicker series.  Robert thinks that because David’s a tree guy, he’s trying to save trees by not publishing in the conventional way. Perhaps I will use that excuse if I can’t find a publisher for my new book. I could use a miracle tree right about now just to get the sucker done.

David’s a funny guy, in person and on the page. I asked him about his new book cover, because I liked it and I’m always on the look out for good graphic designers myself. Here was his reply.

i went with a high-end design firm out of oslo. cost me an extra $23,000, but you know what i always say, no point compromising on quality.

In other words, he designed it himself. Hopefully he had someone proof the book before he sent it into Smashwords. Unless he was going for the ee cummings thing.

And because money doesn’t grow on trees, the book is only $5. Although, come to think of it, books are made from trees. Still you might want to consider buying The Miracle Tree in lieu of a Christmas tree.

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