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Domesticated trees are like people. Some are celebrated, some left in peace, but many are abused and humiliated, and a select few are the subjects of both reverence and mistreatment.

In March of 2016 a bearded man in a red knitted pom pom hat climbed a beloved 80 foot sequoia in the business district of Seattle, creating a local spectacle and eventually spending 24 precarious hours in its canopy.

At first the public's reaction to the climber seemed to be one of benign bemusement, but when he began stripping branches from near the top to throw at responders below, attitudes toward the apparently disturbed man turned and people reacted with disapproval. The media later reported that the man had done $7800 worth of damage.

But less favored trees everywhere are not afforded such concern. They are pruned beyond recognition and without regard for their beauty or health. Living or dead they are used as supports for signs, turned into unofficial utility poles, their surfaces carved or written on, their dead trunks left in testament to the grotesque treatment they received when alive.

Often they are truncated savagely, left to barely survive in an ugly diminished state of comically regenerative torture that imitates a cheerleader's pom pom. Other times they are turned into tall stumps with one or two limbs protruding, as if their little seed had taken root and survived decades in a challenging environment only to be turned into a mysteriously perverse joke.

With trees, more so even than with people, birth location is destiny. A given specimen's surroundings can say a lot about how it will be treated. Looked at another way, many of these trees seem to have adapted to their environment in a peculiar effort to fit in.

Then again, some trees can be "loved" too much, with the result that they are trimmed to fanciful shapes, a twisted aesthetic imposed on them as if they were poodles.

At times the results of all this mistreatment are pathetic, puzzling, or even darkly humorous, but to me they always say something about the nature of humanity. It's no surprise that trees would be treated poorly given how humans often treat other humans. But people are capable of hiding the various scars of their abuse, while trees bear their own scars for all to see.

The tree climber and obtuse, aimless arborist was assumed to be unstable, but the perpetrators of the other insults documented here would not be judged so by their peers. As with much of the abuse of fellow human beings, this behavior is on the acceptable part of the spectrum that is rarely even noted, much less condemned.

These tree photographs are offered as mirrors, each one telling a story about the subject's human master and the culture shaping them both.