Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

Aged / Âgée

2011 . 07 . 03 - Comments / Commentaires (7)

For my birthday, David took me to the Bristlecone Pine Forest near Bishop, California.

Pour mon anniversaire, David m’a emmenée à la Forêt des Pins Bristlecone près de Bishop, en Californie.

bristlecone pine forest in California

photo by David / photo par David

The pines in that forest are thousands of years old.

Les pinus longaeva vivent pendant des milliers d’années.

bristlecone pine forest in California

photo by David / photo par David

And, as the oldest living beings on Earth, my partner thought they might make good company for me on the day I turned thirty—you know, because they’d make me feel young by comparison.

Et, comme les êtres les plus anciens sur Terre, mon ami pensait qu’ils pourraient être de bonne compagnie pour moi le jour de mes trente ans—je me suis sentie bien jeune à côté d’eux.

bristlecone pine forest in California

Though this one looks it, the trees are not particularly big…

Même si celui-ci paraît assez imposant, ces pins ne sont pas particulièrement grands…

bristlecone pine forest in California

photo by David / photo par David

...but what they lack in size…

...mais ce qui leur manque en grandeur…

bristlecone pine forest in California

...they make up for in character.

...ils gagnent en personnalié.

bristlecone pine forest in California

photo by David / photo par David

Shaped by time…

Façonnés par le temps…

bristlecone pine forest in California

...and by the wind…

...et par le vent…

bristlecone pine forest in California

...the trees are like sculptures.

...les arbres sont comme des sculptures.

bristlecone pine forest in California

Each one is so different from the next.

Chacun est complètement différent du suivant.

bristlecone pine forest in California

It really made me see how eccentric life makes each of us.

C’est un peu comme nous. La vie nous rend excentriques.

bristlecone pine forest in California

We start out mostly alike…

Au début, nous nous ressemblons à peu près…

bristlecone pine forest in California

...but, as the years pile on and we experience the world, we take very different forms…

...mais, au fil du temps et suivant nos expériences, nous prenons des formes très différentes…

bristlecone pine forest in California

...reacting to similar pressures in very different ways.

...en réagissant à des pressions similaires de manières très différentes.

bristlecone pine forest in California

It’s beautiful.

C’est beau.

bristlecone pine forest in California

I wanted to unravel how each scar on every tree had appeared.

Je voulais savoir comment chaque cicatrice sur chaque arbre était apparue.

bristlecone pine forest in California

photo by David / photo par David

And I wanted to know where humans fit into the trees’ existence.

Et je voulais comprendre comment les humains faisaient partie de l’existence des pins.

bristlecone pine forest in California

As we hiked, I discovered that being a sea-level dweller at nine thousand feet is a little disorienting.

Au long de notre promenade, j’ai découvert que se retrouver à presque trois kilomètres de hauteur quand on est habitué au niveau de la mer est un peu déboussolant.

bristlecone pine forest in California

I think I went a little loopy.

J’ai eu des moments un peu farfelus.

bristlecone pine forest in California

I started to see things among the wooden shapes…!

J’ai commencé à reconnaître des choses parmi les formes des pins…!

bristlecone pine forest in California

photo by David / photo par David

All the while, I was taking pictures (obviously).

Pendant tout ce temps, je prenais des photos (évidemment).

bristlecone pine forest in California

I was trying to record the day for myself…

J’essayais d’enregistrer le jour pour moi-même…

bristlecone pine forest in California

...and possibly convey something of it to others.

...et pour pouvoir transmettre quelque chose de ce que j’ai vécu aux autres.

bristlecone pine forest in California

It’s hard, though, capturing the giddy feeling of vertigo…

Il est compliqué, cependant, de capter le vertige…

bristlecone pine forest in California

...that comes with hiking on such steep mountain sides.

...qui vient avec une randonnée sur des flancs de montagne escarpés.

bristlecone pine forest in California

There was other kinds of life out there besides the pines.

Avec les pinus longaeva, il y avait aussi d’autres types de vie.

bristlecone pine forest in California

A favorite of mine.

Un de mes préférés.

bristlecone pine forest in California

A bit of color.

Un peu de couleur.

bristlecone pine forest in California

Altogether, it was a lovely way to spend a birthday!

Au total, ce fut une belle façon de fêter un anniversaire!

amateur cupcakes

And when we got back from our road trip, we celebrated my thirty years again at my parents’ house, a fête involving fewer trees and more cupcakes. It’s tradition now that on my birthday we all become cake artists. Usually the decoration theme is “faces” since I’m a portrait lover, but this year we switched it up a bit in keeping with my new animal-focused series.

In case you were wondering, the frosting fauna are:

Top row: zebra, frog, whale, rabbit, rhinoceros
Middle row: bat (mustache?), koala, elephant, shark, deer
Bottom row: dove (don’t ask), Roo (my parents’ dog, he has freckles), flamingo, snake, evil clown man (supposedly a monkey)

(The artists will remain anonymous in order to protect their careers and their dignity. Also, some evidence may have been eaten before this picture was taken.)

Et en rentrant, nous avons célébré mes trente ans chez mes parents. C’était une fête avec moins d’arbres et plus de pâtisseries. Par tradition, chaque anniversaire, tous mes invités deviennent des artistes du gâteau. Normalement, le thème de décoration est «visages» puisque je suis un amateur du portrait, mais cette année nous avions fait des animaux à cause de ma nouvelle Série X.

Dans le cas où vous vous poseriez la question, la faune glacée est:

Rangée du haut: un zèbre, une grenouille, une baleine, un lapin, un rhinocéros
Rangée du milieu: une chauve-souris (une moustache?), un koala, un éléphant, un requin, un cerf
Rangée du bas: une colombe (en effet), Roo (le chien de mes parents, il a des taches de rousseur), un flamant, un serpent, un clown méchant (qui est censé être un singe)

(Les artistes resteront anonymes afin de protéger leur carrière et leur dignité.)


photo by David / photo par David

Yes, indeed, my fourth decade is starting off pretty okay so far.

Ma quatrième décennie commence très très bien.

- Photography’s other gift to art
- CHEE-ka-go and Wisconsin
- Another kind of bell-ringing

- Animal crackers / Des biscuits en forme d’animaux
- The part that counts / La partie qui compte
- Pansy / Pensée

CATEGORIES: - English - Français - Events - Philosophy - Photography -

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(7) Comments / Commentaires: Aged / Âgée

-- linda -- 2011 . 07 . 03 --

Looks like you had a fab bday - best wishes! And your writing about the trees is very poetic. We are all so similar and so different at the same time. But 30 is just a beginning, right!?

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-- Lisa Plemmons Harrison Caddel -- 2011 . 07 . 03 --

As always, thank you for sharing your life and views with your admirers.  I hope this will be your best year yet! God bless you!

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-- Gwenn -- 2011 . 07 . 03 --

Thank you both!  And yes, 30 does feel like a beginning.

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-- Lesley -- 2011 . 07 . 06 --

What a great place to spend a birthday! I love the bristlecone pines, the Eastern Sierra is one of my favorite places on earth.

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-- Gwenn -- 2011 . 07 . 06 --

Lesley! I’m pretty sure we talked about how excited I was to go last year on Twitter.  It didn’t pan out, but it was worth the wait to go on a milestone birthday!  So beautiful.

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-- Amanda -- 2011 . 08 . 03 --


Tim turns 30 this month too, but we won’t be going on a long walk this year, however much we’d like to!

Thanks for sharing these beautiful trees with us. I love trees, so much in fact that the theme at our wedding was trees. Every table was named after a tree and I did watercolour painting of their leaves and cut out leaf-shaped placemats with info about each tree for the guests to read and share.

I just find them totally magical, inspiring and breath-taking all at once. Did you know Ginkgo trees not only survived the atomic blasts at both Hiroshima and Chernobyl, but went on to flower not long afterwards? And Yew trees are really hard to date because they send down “aerial roots” that fill up the trunk as it becomes hollow over time and thus a new trunk is formed and the tree continues to survive for thousands of years, looking as young as ever. I could talk for hours about (and with) trees, so I really love this post smile

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-- Gwenn -- 2011 . 08 . 03 --

Amanda: You make me want to do more research about trees and more tree pilgrimages!

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