Faces in Trees
It seems that every American school or neighborhood has its own version of the “Bloody Mary” tale. When I was seven years old, kicking my legs in a tire swing in a playground set not too far from the woods, my friend Porter told me the version popular at our school:
“Long, long ago,” Porter began with eyes black as the road, “There was a girl named Mary. She was just a girl like us, except that she always wore a choker to hide the huge, ugly scar around her neck. But one day some kid ripped the choker off her neck. Everybody saw the scar, so Mary killed the kid. She had to. And she's been haunting kids ever since just to make sure they don't look at her scar and make fun of it.”
I nodded as I toed a pile of mulch.
“See that tree?” Porter said and pointed at a tree several yards away.
“That's Mary in the tree.”
High up on the tree's trunk, dark marks in the bark betrayed a vaguely feminine face. I whipped around and stared at Porter to avoid staring at Mary's ghost.
By today's standard, it's not the scariest or most interesting ghost story, but that's not even the point. The point is that ever since then, I've always looked for faces in trees. It used to be that I found those faces in the tree's natural bark patterns. More often now, I see actual tree face sculptures—DIY, like street art except that it's not restricted to urban environments. It can exist anywhere a tree exists, whether that's in the city, the country, or somewhere in between.
Here's an example of one I recently spotted in Alexandria, Virginia: