Rock Rabbits and Rhino Trees – Creatures of Wood, Stone & Ice
Bark Pattern, Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontario

Rock Rabbits and Rhino Trees – Creatures of Wood, Stone & Ice

Wood pattern, Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontario

A few years ago I was walking around the grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario when I noticed some wood patterns, shown in the photo above, on a fallen tree near the path. What do you see in the wood? I saw an eye in the center of the image, flared nostrils in  the lower right, and a flowing mane in the lower left. In combination, I saw a horse carved in the wooden surface of the fallen tree. 

Zoomorphism is the attribution of animal-like shapes or qualities to something that is not an animal, such as a deity, a human, or an inanimate object. During the past few decades, I’ve taken several “zoomorphic” photographs, and I will share a few more in this article.

Rhino Tree, Lawrence Woods State Nature Preserve, Hardin County, Ohio

Sometime during its earlier life, the white oak shown above experienced a traumatic act that caused its trunk to be contorted into a shape that looks a bit like the head of an African two-horned southern white rhinoceros. Perhaps the white oak had another tree fall on it, or was struck by lightning. The Rhino Tree may be found along the boardwalk trail at Lawrence Woods State Nature Preserve near Kenton in rural Hardin County, Ohio.

The Rock Rabbit, Sakonnet River, Rhode Island

I found the “Rock Rabbit” shown in the photo above on some cliffs along the shoreline of the Sakonnet River, near Portsmouth, Rhode Island. To my eye, the rock pattern bore an uncanny resemblance to the head of a rabbit, or perhaps a hare. Do you agree, or was I suffering from a lapinary lapse of lucidity?

Igneous and metamorphic rock patterns, Pemaquid Point, Maine

If you love rock patterns, be sure to add Pemaquid Point on the coast of Maine to your landscape photography bucket list. Pemaquid Point is famous for its lighthouse, but the most photogenic opportunities will be found in the expanse of metamorphic and igneous rock that stretches for several hundred feet from the lighthouse down to the edge of the Atlantic ocean. In some places, the multi-colored layers of rock are folded like a piece of cloth, and in others the rock appears to have been squeezed out from a tube of striped toothpaste. What do you see in the rock art shown above? The eye is unmistakeable (at least to me) but is that snout to the right of the eye the mouth of a fish, or is it more bovine, like a cow or a calf?       

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human-like shapes or qualities to something that is not human, such as a deity, an animal, or an inanimate object. One of the most famous examples of anthropomorphism occurred in New Hampshire, where a craggy profile on Cannon Mountain, north of Lincoln in Franconia Notch, was named “The Old Man of the Mountains” because of its similarity to a human face. The postcard above shows a painting of the Old Man, together with a tribute written by Daniel Webster, a New Hampshire statesman who served as U.S. Secretary of State under Presidents Harrison, Tyler, and Fillmore during the 1850s. The Old Man still serves as the state emblem of New Hampshire, although sadly the cliff that bore his likeness collapsed through erosion in 2003.

Ghostly ice sculptures at Edgewater Park along the Lake Erie shoreline near Cleveland after a winter storm.

I found a wintry anthropomorphic photo opportunity at Edgewater Park along the Cleveland shoreline of Lake Erie in December, 2010 when a winter ice storm struck northeast Ohio, blanketing everything with a thick coating of ice. Shrubs and grasses were transformed into ghostly shapes, as shown in the photo above, which I dubbed the Ghostly Grim Reaper. What else do you see in the photograph?

Birch Roots, South Chagrin Reservation, Cleveland Metroparks

I will conclude with the photo above, which shows the roots of a black birch tree clinging to a sandstone cliff at South Chagrin Reservation, near Chagrin Falls in northeast Ohio. How many human body parts can you see in the photograph? Do you see a long arm with a hand reaching down into some leaves? Do you see a pair of legs, one of which is wearing a shoe or boot with a stiletto heel? What other human anatomical structures do you observe in the photograph? 

If you are in need of some relief from the solitary confinement imposed on many of us by the Covid (19) virus, grab your smartphone or favorite camera, head out to your local park or nature preserve, and look for creatures hidden in the rocks and trees.    




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