Brief-Form Post #17: Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary Natural Tree Sculptures!


I am pleased to offer the 17th of my new GBH Brief Form Posts to my website (Less than three minutes to read!). I tend to get a bit long-winded with my routine Posts. I don’t want my enthusiasm for thoroughness and detail to discourage readers. So I will publish these brief Posts regularly.


Brief-Form Post on Natural Tree Sculptures at Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary!


The afternoon of May 26, 2023, I wandered the riparian forest along the Flint River at Huntsville. Alabama’s Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary. I had no expectation of what my ramblings would reveal. I had been in the vicinity delivering a late morning program at the Residences at WellPoint Community. Henry David Thoreau’s sage wisdom accompanied me: It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see. I saw far more than what I could have imagined — a rewarding menagerie of Natural Tree Sculptures.

A Sample of One Special Tree Form Oddity:

Living Hickory Sculpture


A contorted still-living hickory emerged along my woodland rambling. The tree suffered a severe blow decades earlier when it was a sapling or pole-sized stem in the developing forest. Another tree top or large branch crushed it at about the height of my trekking pole. Its multiple stems sprouted, securing its place in the intermediate canopy. This ugly duckling will never reach into the upper canopy. It won’t produce bushels of hickory nuts. Perhaps it will throw off a few viable nuts and through some stroke of good fortune aided by a wayward squirrel or Jay, find itself cached where it may germinate and succeed forward.


The tree is a jumble of stems, burls, and decay. A horizontal hollow stem is particularly artsy!

I recorded this 1:41 hickory video, capturing the tree in its 360-degree glory.


Its magic appears from every perspective.


This tree expresses a distinct personality…a tortured aspect reminiscent of ogres and gargoyles. Imagine being helplessly lost in this near-swamp part of the forest at evening’s gloaming, coming face to face with the branch-head below right!


Other tree form oddities and curiosities greeted me. This single super star will suffice for this Brief Post. I’ll present the full array of encountered curiosities in a subsequent longer form Post.

I accept the challenge of distilling these Brief-Form Posts to a single distinct reflection, a task far more elusive than assembling a dozen pithy statements. Sometimes, I borrow a distinct reflection from the truly great minds of antiquity, for no matter how hard I try I am unable to best those whom I have followed and revered across my seven-plus decades. In this case, it is Henry David Thoreau who captured the essence of Nature’s elixir 150 years ago:

  • It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.


NOTE: I place 3-5 short videos (15-seconds to three minutes) on my Steve Jones Great Blue Heron YouTube channel weekly. All relate to Nature-Inspired Life and Living. I encourage you to SUBSCRIBE! It’s FREE. Having more subscribers helps me spread my message of Informed and Responsible Earth Stewardship…locally and globally!