About A Little Book of Tree Wisdom

Illustration for 'A Little Book of Tree Wisdom' by Jay-lee Shih

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My 'Fairy Forest' outside Amsterdam (October 2019)

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In May 2020, when we moved onto Lockdown Level 4 in South Africa and could go out to exercise between 6am and 9am within a 5km radius of our home, I started going for daily walks through my suburb in Greenside, Johannesburg.  I love trees and during my walks I was drawn to one tree in particular (the smallest jacaranda tree, in a row of several) and would stop by this tree to say hello, connect for a ‘tree hug’ or just lean against it and contemplate the world for a bit.  Often I’d be pondering, puzzling or stressing about something in the upside down world we found ourselves in and one day, standing under my tree, with thoughts going round and round in my head, I ‘heard’ a phrase of simple guidance in my head, which I felt could only have come from my tree.  Each morning thereafter the rhythm of the words of the first two lines of my tree poem would repeat in my head as a kind of ‘waltz’ as I walked and I’d then arrive at and connect with my tree, and receive some new tree wisdom, as the third verse of each stanza.  Altogether I received 22 messages/verses from my tree - after that it felt like my Tree-Poem was complete.

I shared my Tree-Poem with friend and poet Ruth Everson who felt that my tree's words needed to be heard and introduced me to her publisher, Sarah McGregor of Clockwork Books. I commissioned a young art student at St David's Marist Inanda to create the illustrations, set up a crowdfunding page on Backabuddy to help raise funds towards the publishing of the Tree-Poem and selected One Tree Planted to be the nonprofit beneficiary of the book. Dr Gianni Mariano, a former Trustee of the St David's Marist Foundation, introduced me to Professor Kim Berman of Artist Proof Studio and Phumani Paper, to look at some natural tree fibre paper options for my book, which have been incorporated into the print copies of the book in the form of the ficus tree 'leaf' bookmarks, which were embossed by Artist Proof Studio.

I have so enjoyed the journey of bringing my tree's words to life, and on to paper, and the tremendous generosity of heart and spirit of all those who have accompanied me on the journey to make this book possible.

A dancing tree in an ivy dress (Parkhurst, Johannesburg, 2021)

Fiona Budd (Author)

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Fiona Budd was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, grew up in South Africa, and trained at the Royal Ballet School in London, UK.  She is a retired professional ballet dancer, and the former Managing Director and a Senior Soloist of The South African Ballet Theatre company, which she co-founded with five fellow dancers in 2001. Fiona is passionate about ballet, the arts and philanthropy - her journey has taken her to the USA as Head of Ballet at a performing arts summer camp, Istanbul, Turkey, to speak on corporate philanthropy, she was one of ten volunteers chosen for the first year of the Vodacom Change the World Programme in South Africa, had her own ballet music radio programme on Classic 1027 (‘Ballet Bouquet’) and has choreographed multiple ballet works, accompanied by South Africa’s top orchestras, musicians and opera singers. She is currently a Trustee and the Director of the St David’s Marist Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

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One Tree Planted

One Tree Planted is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to global reforestation. They plant trees to restore nature and biodiversity. They also raise awareness about the importance of trees, offer businesses a simple sustainability solution, and motivate younger generations to do something positive for the environment. One dollar plants one tree.

For every copy of 'A Little Book of Tree Wisdom' sold, whether print or e-book, and every donation that has been made in support of its publishing, Fiona is donating $1 dollar to One Tree Planted.

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