Friday, October 15, 2010

The ailanthus tree

With a long weekend because of Fall Break at Chattanooga State, I hope to catch up on both reading and sleep.  It's time.  I taught my two writing classes at Chattanooga State this morning, came home tired, ate lunch, and stretched out to start reading.  (Yes, I'm that far behind.)  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was published in 1943, but Anna Quindlen's Foreword was copyrighted in 2001.  I flipped the pages, deciding I could read Quindlen's five pages plus the six short chapters of Book One, a mere 54 pages, but I fell asleep before finishing the first page, which has only two paragraphs!  Must be tired, huh?  I'd say so, since I napped a solid six hours.  I made supper and read all the way to the second page of the Foreword, where I found Quindlen's remarks about the tree, the one that grows in Brooklyn:
"All of this takes place in the life of Francie Nolan, who is eleven years old when her story opens in the summer of 1912, in a third-floor walk-up apartment in the shadow of the hardy urban ailanthus tree..." (page viii).
I stopped to get online and look it up.  The ailanthus tree, also known also as the Tree of Heaven, is "native to Asia and northern Australia.  It was introduced into England from China in the mid-18th century as an ornamental, migrating to the United States in 1874."  I found pictures of the tree and decided to get online to share them with everybuddy.  So here I am at 8:00 in the evening, and I've managed to read a whole three-and-a-half paragraphs of the book.  The Foreword, actually.  I haven't even gotten to Francie yet.  With just under 500 pages to go, I'd better finish this post and start reading!


Bonnie Jacobs said...

Did anybuddy else look up pictures of the ailanthus tree?

Shirley said...

I'd wondered about the tree, but not enough to look it up. Thanks for sharing! I had visualized a bushier tree than what is shown in the photo.
My copy of the book didn't have the forward by Anna Quinlen.
I can relate all too well to falling asleep while trying to read. I do the same thing watching movies. I hope you soon feel more rested.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I got a full night's sleep (on top of that six-hour nap), so this morning I'm playing with words again. Go see what I wrote about being exhausted.

Mark Gozonsky said...

Henry James confirms that ailanthus trees "formed the principal umbrage" of Washington Square back when 5th Avenue was just starting to take off.

I enjoyed your commentary on reading and napping.