Mark Lindquist History





Birth of Project

To Blakely
Team Blakely
Building Bridges
Knowing Blakely
Studying Tree
Show Begins
Digging Deep
Main Event
Tree Character

Super Ax
 Film Perspective
Trust Vision
Last Day

Studio Life
Winding Down
30K View





The Blakely Burl Tree Project: The Story

The Blakely Burl Tree Project:
From The Ground Up

by Terry Martin

Studying The Tree

On Monday the perfect weather continues and we are all on site before sunrise to catch the early light for the cameras. Mark explains: “The hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset is when you find the "glory light".

The "glory light" fills the Blakely Burl Tree site. 
Photo: Mark Lindquist

Mark Lindquist (center) with the film crew and Terry Martin, waiting for the morning light.  
Photo: John McFadden

Producer Ken Browne (left) and Cinematographer Gregory Andracke, in the early morning, waiting for the "glory light".  
Photo: John McFadden

Mark looks up at the light-dappled surface of the tree. “This light is as good as I’ve ever seen.” The filming of the entire tree has to be finished this morning as a local contractor will soon arrive to take down the limbs.

Morning light coming in on the Blakely Burl Tree
Photo: John McFadden

Cinematographer Greg Andracke filming the Blakely Burl Tree in "the glory light" 
Photo: John McFadden

Although most of our interest is focused on the burl-covered trunk, there is a lot of wood in the branches and they will be carefully cut and stored on pallets.
Mark and Gary quickly ride the Zoom Boom up among the branches, getting as close as possible to every branch and fork to decide how the best cuts can be made.

Mark Lindquist and Gary Stevens in "Zoom Boom" 
Photo: Terry Martin

Lindquist and Stevens up close with the tree. 
Photo: John McFadden

Aerial view of the Blakely Burl Tree site. 
Photo: Mark Lindquist

It is the first chance to look closely at the branches, checking for faults and hollows, as well as to identify the prime wood. They huddle above the rest of us in intense conversation, pushing as close as they can to every part of the tree. Earlier Mark had told me why they are getting such an early start: “We had such a great day yesterday looking at the tree, but today we need to get up close with the Zoom Boom. Gary and I both know a lot about trees and about burls. We speak the same language and we pool our knowledge.”

Gary Stevens (left) and Mark Lindquist, discussing Burl tree
Photo: Terry Martin
While most of us are looking up at the Zoom Boom, one of the local crew sidles up beside me and asks in a quiet voice, “Hey, I heard that tree is worth half a million. Is that right?” I try to explain that it is hard to put an actual value on the tree, but it would be nothing like that. “Yeah, right,” he says.

Mark and Gary descend from the Zoom Boom, then start scrambling around in the mud at the base of the tree, probing and banging on the sides. Mark emerges from the ditch, wiping his hands: “Well, we agree that there probably isn’t a big taproot. That’s important because if there is, it’s going to be much harder to get it out of the ground.” “Yeah, we agree on that,” says Gary, “but we don’t agree on whether the tree is solid or not. I think it might be hollow, but Mark doesn’t. Let’s hope he’s right.”

The two of them are joined by Greg in the Zoom Boom and with Mark directing he films the foliage and bark of the tree as they are brought into sharp relief by the slanting light. The rest of us stand below, craning our necks up at the small group perched on the end of the long arm as it lurches, mantis-like, across the ground. Mark’s voice floats down to us: “A little more to the left…a little more…that’s it! See that Greg? That’s what we want.”

Greg Andracke (left) Filming, Mark Lindquist directing. 
Photo: John McFadden

Greg Andracke filming Blakely Burl Tree 
Photo: Mark Lindquist

Mark’s intensity mounts. Down on the ground he urges Greg and Ken to get as much footage as they can, all the time pointing, guiding and suggesting. John is busy catching those last-chance images of the standing tree. I overhear snatches of gleeful conversation between John and Mark as they both photograph the tree under the changing light of the rising sun. “Look at that!…Oh boy!...Isn’t that great light?”

(Left to right) John McFadden, Mark Lindquist, Greg Andracke shooting in the "glory light" on-site, Blakely Burl Tree Project. 
Photo: Terry Martin

When Mark is satisfied that we have made the most of the early light, we all take the short walk to the Funny Girl restaurant on the town square. Stanley has arranged for the owner Heather to look after us during our time in Blakely and this morning’s breakfast is proof that she has enormous pride in her work. Every day we are delighted by her new offerings and her bustling good humor.

When we all walk back to the burl tree, cars are already cruising by, drivers slowing to take in the scene, heads swiveling as they pass. Others walk by, politely keeping back, but obviously curious about what is happening. I enjoy listening in to their conversations and a common topic is the value of the tree:

“You know, I heard that tree is worth $500,000.”

“I dunno, I heard it’s more like $750,000.”

Mid-morning a man approaches us and introduces himself as a local high school teacher who teaches forestry, and he asks if he can bring his class down to watch. When the large group of students arrives they politely line up, full of that energy that comes from an excuse to get out of class, but also full of curiosity about what we are doing. Mark explains the project to them and they rush him with questions. It’s a good moment because if the project goes as planned it should have more significance for these young people than anybody else there. The teacher tells them it’s time to go, but one young man puts up his hand. “Is it true,” he asks, "that the tree is worth a million dollars?”

Mark Lindquist (right) discusses Blakely Burl Tree Project with high school students.
Photo: John McFadden
Work is briefly suspended while Charles’ grandson Stephen Braxton Wall II, age 12, is given a ride up in the Zoom Boom.

Gary Stevens (right) outfits Stephen Wall with a harness. 
Photo: John McFadden

He shows a lot of the brightness and curiosity that Charles must have had at that age, and because he is so quick and so polite, nobody minds taking time for him to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The wide-eyed glee on his face is enough thanks.

Stephen Braxton Wall II, age 12, (grandson of Charles B. Rice, Sr) takes a ride in the Zoom Boom
Photo: John McFadden

Barton and his son Nicholas Barton Rice, age 6, also take a quick ride, but then time runs out and we all clear the way for an important moment.

Barton Rice and his son Nicholas Barton Rice, in the "zoom boom". 
Photo: John McFaddden

Charles and his family gather with Mark and Stanley, facing the tree and the place where the old J. B. Rice shop stood, and local pastor Fred Daniels offers an emotional benediction and speaks of all that the tree symbolizes.

Prayer of thanks, led by Pastor Fred Daniels (2nd from left).
Photo: John McFadden

Charles is clearly moved and he reaches out for his wife’s hand. Later I ask him about it: “I was very emotional,” he says. “It was like a time warp and a thousand images flashed through my mind. So much emotion and so much history…..and such a beautiful prayer and dedication.”

Charles B. Rice, Sr., (center) shaking hands with Pastor Fred Daniels. 
Photo: John McFadden

Introduction | The Story | The Tree | The Artwork | Team | NewsFilm | Sawmill | Location | Rice Foundation