Angel Island Insight #8: Megan & Chris Wong

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.

MEGAN and CHRIS WONG’s grandfathers were held in the Angel Island Immigration Station barracks. In 1929, Edmund Fong (Gung Gung) arrived in the belly of his mother Wun Shee Fong, who was five months pregnant. Gew Thet Wong (Ye Ye) arrived on Angel Island in 1931.

In 2021, the siblings offer their behind-the-scenes portrait of Beloved Community for Angel Island Insight.

Angel Island Insight. Directed and Edited by Chris Wong. 2021.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Angel Island Insight #7: Heather Knight

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.


What a beautiful day in the bay. Took the ferry to Angel Island and hiked to the top. Back to work Monday. Sounds like there’s plenty to write about. 😉 #TotalSF

HEATHER KNIGHT 5:41 PM · Apr 2, 2021·Twitter for iPhone


Heather Knight is a columnist working out of City Hall and covering everything from politics to homelessness to family flight and the quirks of living in one of the most fascinating cities in the world. She believes in holding politicians accountable for their decisions or, often, lack thereof – and telling the stories of real people and their struggles.

She co-hosts the Chronicle’s TotalSF podcast and co-founded its #TotalSF program to celebrate the wonder and whimsy of San Francisco.

Two decades ago, Heather visited Angel Island and following a group of students visiting the Immigration Barracks on a field trip.

“About 47,000 Bay Area students — ranging from fourth grade to college — take the Angel Island tour every year, said Ellen Loring, volunteer coordinator for the Angel Island Association. Weekday field trips are booked solid through June.

Cap Wilhelm-Safian, who teaches English and history at River Glen, a Spanish immersion school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, said he’s taken students to Angel Island for six years.

“I find with students that to actually experience something and be in the place, it brings it home,” he said. “It’s important for them to understand that everybody in this country is an immigrant. It expands their sense of community beyond the school.”

Kids Learn Angel Island Not Always Heavenly by Heather Knight, Chronicle Staff Writer, Jan. 26, 2001.

Today, in 2021, ferry service from San Francisco to Angel Island is in question. Facing declining ridership, increased operating costs and plummeting revenues even before the pandemic, Blue & Gold Fleet submitted a request to the California Public Utilities Commission to discontinue passenger trips from The City to both Angel Island and Tiburon. “We just strongly believe there has to be direct service from San Francisco to Angel Island. “Not having that is similar to not having direct service from Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty,” says Ed Tepporn, Executive Director of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation.

The CPUC values your input. Submit your public comment HERE.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Angel Island Insight #6: Mark Shigenaga

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.


Although photography had always been a casual interest of mine, it wasn’t until 2008, when capturing the energy and joyful expressions of the dancers at the Berkeley Obon, did I realize my passion for this activity. It is through this continued pursuit of photography that I have connected to many local ethnic communities, deepened an interest in my Japanese American heritage, and engaged many culturally active artists, activists, and historians.  While my photographic style continues to evolve, I’m most inspired by images that portray the vibrancy and soul of our collective communities, whether through the sharing of various art forms, celebrations, or remembrances.

MARK SHIGENAGA, Community Photographer


Photo: Mark Shigenaga. Filming day on Angel Island with Claudia Katanayagi for A Bitter Legacy, 2012.
Mark Shigenaga

In 2014, I helped photo document the 1st Nikkei Angel Island Pilgrimage, an event sponsored by the Nichi Bei Foundation, with AIISF, the National Japanese American Historical Society, California Genealogical Society, and the California Park Services as partners.  It was during this pilgrimage that I met Grant Din.  A chance discussion subsequently led to an exploration of my grandfather Kakuro and great uncle Shigeo’s history on this island, who were shipped from Hawaii to California and destined to become interned at various Department of Justice camps a few months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Grant’s access to the National Archives and Records Administration led to a wealth of new insights to the journeys of the Shigenaga brothers, and are, today, cherished by our family. 

— Mark Shigenaga, May 18, 2021.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Angel Island Insight #5: Christine Huhn

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.

Christine Huhn. Native Oak Limbs near Sunrise Campsites, 2021. Silver Gelatin Print. 16″ x 20″

When Andi approached me about the Angel Island Insight Project, I thought this would just be a great opportunity to visit a California State Park I had never been to. On my first visit to the Island, I was immediately drawn to the natural dichotomy within the landscape. The native oak and invasive eucalyptus trees subtly reflect the dichotomy of the treatment of the European and Chinese immigrants that came through the Island. The vegetation and structural ruins encompassing the Island visually represent the varied history and time passed through the landscape. Angel Island has become a deep inspiration to me and my work. When I spoke with friends about the project, some had never been to the Island including many SF natives. I have always been most interested to visit lesser known landscapes, as I hope my work highlights and informs the public of these beautiful and historically rich places.

Christine Huhn, preservation photographer, www.christinehuhn.com


Christine Huhn by Micaela Go

CHRISTINE HUHN (b. 1984) is a visual artist and cultural heritage professional who grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania, less than five miles from the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. This connection to the landscape has deeply influenced her work, which focuses on preserving cultural landscapes through film photography and historic photographic processes. She received her bachelor of fine arts in photography from the State University of New York at New Paltz and her master of arts in historic preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design where she was awarded a SCAD Honors Scholarship and inducted into Sigma Pi Kappa: National Historic Preservation Honors Society.

In 2021, Christine exhibited her work Can We See Time at the Napa County Library in Napa, CA. Her work has been selected for several group exhibitions nationally, most notably at the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature, New Museum Los Gatos, and The Center for Fine Art Photography. Over the past ten years, Christine has volunteered at many non-profit organizations including; the National Park Service, the Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Baltimore Heritage, and the Historic Preservation Office (Washington, DC). She has been awarded artist residencies at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, Mojave National Preserve Artists Foundation, and Kala Art Institute. Christine currently lives in San Francisco, CA. 

Photo: Christine at Land’s End by MICAELA GO, http://www.micaelago.com/

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Angel Island Insight #4: Imogen Cunningham

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.


“The formula for doing a good job in photography is to think like a poet”

— Imogen Cunningham


IMOGEN CUNNINGHAM (April 12, 1883 – June 23, 1976) was an American photographer known for her botanical photography, nudes, and industrial landscapes. Cunningham was a member of the California-based Group f/64, known for its dedication to the sharp-focus rendition of simple subjects.

“Angel Island, 1952” by Imogen Cunningham depicts a young man at the San Francisco ferry landing.

Imogen Cunningham. Angel Island, 1952. © 2021 Imogen Cunningham Trust

When we wrote to the Cunningham Estate to request permission to share this photo, we enjoyed the exchange with her granddaughter Meg Partridge. Meg spoke of Imogen’s friendship with photographer Benjamen Chinn, a relation to Lenore Chinn.

Meg also fondly recalled her grandmother Imogen’s special relationship with artist Ruth Asawa.

As the Asawa family notes on their website, “Beginning in the 1950s and until she died in 1976, Imogen Cunningham was a close personal friend. Many of Imogen’s photographs document Ruth’s early work and family life.”

When artist LILLI LANIER shared a lithograph that she made in college of her great grandmother Haru Asawa, drawn from a photograph taken by Imogen in 1966, we were delighted. Haru Yasuda came through Angel Island when she immigrated to the United States to marry Umakichi Asawa.

It is a special pleasure to link generations of artists through this special project.

Lilli Lanier. Haru (after Haru Asawa, 1966, by Imogen Cunningham). Lithograph on paper. 2006.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Angel Island Insight #3: Lenore Chinn

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.

Photo: Lenore Chinn. Angel Island Immigration Station Dedication Ceremony for The Immigrant Heritage Wall. July 23, 2011. 
Photo: Lenore Chinn. Angel Island Immigration Station Dedication Ceremony for The Immigrant Heritage Wall. July 23, 2011. 

“Quite a few years ago I was with Flo Oy Wong and family during a 2000 opening of her art exhibit, made in usa: Angel Island Shhh at the Angel Island Immigration Station.

I couldn’t find any image files from that far back. But today I came across a set I had taken years later on the occasion of a dedication there on July 23, 2011. Again, I was there with Flo and family and quite a few notables from our Chinese American community, like Buck Gee, Board President of AIISF, musician Frances Wong and photographer Frank Jang. Historian Judy Yung, who died last month, was in attendance.”

— Lenore Chinn, January 17, 2021


Lenore Chinn
by Mia Nakano, ©Visibility Project. https://www.visibilityproject.org/

LENORE CHINN

I am a San Francisco based artist who focuses on the depiction of a wide spectrum of people in all their diversity and color.

Portraiture is at the core of my visual art practice whether it is painting or photography – both are employed in my creative process.

A moment in time spontaneously captured by my digital bridge camera, transmitted to acrylic on canvas, conveyed in modern archival print or Shared on Facebook, these images document everyday life.

As a body of work they are visual narratives that constitute an art history largely hidden from the public’s perception of society and our particular collective experience.

My focus as a photographer is capturing images and documenting cultural landscapes from a painter’s point of view.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Angel Island Insight #2 : Lai Yong

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.


“Lai Yong exhibits two portraits—tolerably good, but rather Chinese in style.”

San Francisco Chronicle, Mechanics’ Institute Fair. Ninth Day. Art Matters—Attendance—Receipts—Programme of Music for This Evening. September 24, 1869, page 3.


LAI YONG, according to historians, was the first known Chinese artist in California; his studio is listed in San Francisco directories as early as 1867, though his only surviving painting, dated 1870, is a portrait of future San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro, symbolic of his remarkable success in the white community, considering the restrictive social environment of the time. He was not timid about attacking racist treatment of his people, co-authoring an 1873 pamphlet, “The Chinese Question from a Chinese Standpoint”, read, in translation, to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and even featured in an article in the New York Times. Yong was also a notable photographer, his photos of Chinese subjects appearing at a Mechanics Institute exhibition in 1869, about the time that he opened his Washington Street studio. Historians have noted only four known carte-de-visite photos by Yong – of a Chinese man, a woman, two children, and one self-portrait which shows the artist at work on the portrait of a caucasian woman. The photo offered here appears to be an unknown fifth photo, portraying another Chinese man with similar, but not identical, clothing and accoutrements. It is not surprising that so little of Lai Yong’s work has survived, as he himself disappeared from San Francisco records in 1882 – at the height of the “Chinese exclusion” furor – when he apparently sold his business and may have returned to China.

from Stanford University Libraries

The Chinese Question from a Chinese StandpointAlternative Title: translated by Rev. O. Gibson. 1874. Chinese/Chinese American Communities : Ethnic Studies Library : Edwar Lee papers : Booklets [on the “Chinese Question”] “Chinese in California” Collection, Ethnic Studies Library, UC Berkeley.

Lai Yong, photographer [two young performers in costume]. 1872.
From Chinese In California Collection, Courtesy of California Historical Society.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Angel Island Insight #1 : AIISF & Del Sol Quartet

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.


“While there are inscriptions by immigrants from many different nations that can still be found on the walls of the detention barracks, it’s the 200+ poems left behind by Chinese detainees that helped to save the site’s buildings from being torn down and that secured the site’s status as both a California Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. These poems give us a glimpse into the emotions and experiences of immigrants who were held in detention then.”

Edward Tepporn, Executive Director, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation


Photo: Edward Tepporn. Angel Island Chinese Monument. July 20, 2019.

ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION FOUNDATION (AIISF) raises awareness of the experience of Immigration into America through the Pacific. AIISF collects and preserves the rich stories and personal journeys of thousands of immigrants and shares them with visitors and everyone living in America through education initiatives and public programs. The Angel Island Immigration Station reminds us of the complicated history of immigration in America. It serves as a symbol of our willingness to learn from our past to ensure that our nation keeps its promise of liberty and freedom.

Photo: Russell Nauman. Return to Angel Island – Calvin Ong (Ong Doon). June 26, 2021.

In 1937, ten-year-old Calvin Ong (Ong Doon) was detained on Angel Island by immigration officials on his way into the country. Eighty-four years later—on June 26, 2021—Calvin returned to the U.S. Immigration Station with his family. He briefly spoke about his time as a detainee, and a hospital patient, on Angel Island. 

In this photo, Calvin was looking out the window of the former immigration hospital when he noticed the hillside below. He could remember sitting on the hill and watching the ferry arrive with new immigrants each day. Later, we went outside so Calvin could look out over the water with his children and grandchildren.

— Russell Nauman, Operations Manager, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation


THE DEL SOL QUARTET revels in the risk of constantly reimagining the string quartet, building community around art, artistic process, our environment and our culture. Supported by the nonprofit Del Sol Performing Arts Organization (DSPAO), the Del Sol Quartet shares living music with an ever-growing community of adventurous listeners.

Committed to advancing art’s place in society and providing access to a diverse range of audience, the Quartet focuses on commissioning and performing new works, forming unusual and provocative collaborations, and sharing its work globally through recording and education projects.

THE ANGEL ISLAND ORATORIO PROJECT fits squarely into Del Sol’s tradition of adventurous collaborations between artists and community organizations to create new work with a lasting place in the repertoire and to broaden audiences. These goals are integrally connected to shared experiences and socially-relevant themes. The oratorio provides a new way of examining immigration and the clash between governmental policies and national ideals — relevant both to our history and our current political climate. The work also reflects our individual values of what it means to be American, the stories of how we got here, and the history of our city and state.

Photo: Kathryn Bates, View on Island. 2021.
Photo: Edward Tepporn. Angel Island Immigration Station Barracks. July 20, 2019.
Photo: Kathryn Bates. View of Island. March 13, 2021.
Photo: Kathryn Bates. View from Island. March 13, 2021.
Photo: Edward Tepporn. Hope. Angel Island. June 16, 2019.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

USAAF 2021: Angel Island Insight

Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs examining the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and Del Sol Quartet.

These presentations expand public engagement with composer Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings. World premiere performance with Del Sol Quartet and Volti, directed by Robert Geary on October 22 2021, 8pm at the Presidio Theatre in San Francisco, with performances on Angel Island on Saturday, October 23, 2021, pending safety restrictions.

“As an Asian American artist, this opportunity to showcase a history that has both a direct connection to my ethnicity as well as a global connection is incredibly empowering.”

– Charlton Lee, Del Sol’s founder & Artistic Director

Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center’s United States of Asian American Festival 2021 presents ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT with The Last Hoisan Poets & Del Sol Quartet

The Last Hoisan Poets & Del Sol Quartet

In a journey that flows from anger and sorrow, using gratitude as a way to find joy, this Zoom program weaves together their poetry with performances by the Del Sol Quartet, music by Asian-American composers Kui Dong, Theresa Wong, Jungyoon Wie, Huang Ruo, and a collaborative composition performed by The Last Hoisan Poets with the Del Sol Quartet. Artist Q&A moderated by Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s executive director Edward Tepporn.

Online program held via Zoom on Saturday, May 22, 2021, 2pm.

Three descendants of Angel Island immigrants, The Last Hoisan Poets – Genny Lim, Flo Oy Wong and Nellie Wong – use poetry to speak their individual truths and creatively reclaim the Hoisan-wa language and culture, with performances by the Del Sol Quartet, music by Asian-American composers.

Recording of 5/22/21 APIIC USAAF presents: ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT with The Last Hoisan Poets and Del Sol Quartet

APICC USAAF 2021 Digital Program

Haw Meong Suey (Good Life’s Water)

This collaborative poem written by poets Nellie Wong, Flo Oy Wong, and Genny Lim, was performed with accompaniment by the Del Sol Quartet on Saturday May 22, 2021 for the United States of Asian America Festival 2021, presented by the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center. “Haw meong suey” is a Hoisan-wa phrase that translates as “good life’s water.” A person who has “haw meong suey” is a vessel of blessings.

For more information, please visit https://www.delsolquartet.com/angelislandinsight


This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org

The Peach Tree

On Tuesday morning, artist/poet/educator Flo Oy Wong shared her photo of these gorgeous peaches ripening on a tree in school garden near her home. Sweet Dawn, Flo’s neighborhood walking partner, wanted to bring her friends to enjoy the vibrant school garden, home of milkweed plants and more.

“From my morning exploration at the school garden behind my house. The insects – wasps, bees, ladybugs, Monarchs (big ones) – were plentiful.”

insects
pollinate now
wasps lady bug bees buzz
on sunflowers milkweed grapevines
near by

FLO OY WONG
July 28, 2021

Two days later on Thursday morning, Flo and her neighborhood walking partners, Wonderful Wendy and Sweet Dawn were so sad. They discovered that the peach tree had been cut down. Flo wrote a poem, Robust Peaches 2, about the giving volunteer tree — now a memory shared by friends.

Flo Oy Wong reads her poem, “Robust Peaches 2”
Robust Peaches 2
Robust peaches, 
kissed by the sun,  
grow by a low concrete 
wall at the neighborhood 
school.

Robust peaches.

The peach tree’s inviting 
palette, a deep reddish hue 
with gold undertones, glow 
under azure sky.
Abundance of fruit weighs
heavily on limbs limping 
towards ground, enchanting
walkers who pass by. 

Robust peaches.

One day, workers tear down
the peach tree, a volunteer one.
No one planted it.
It just grew.
Soon, when children return,
masked or double-masked,
to start the new school year,
the peach tree, pregnant with
bounty, will no longer be there.

Robust peaches.

FLO OY WONG
July 29, 2021

Unidentified Artist An Immortal on a Cloud with a Pair of Peaches, 20th century China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911) Leaf from an album; ink on paper; H. 9 11/16 in. (24.6 cm); W. 12 in. (30.5 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Fritzi and Murray Sanders, 1984 (1984.492.1) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/51866

THE PEACH (Prunus persica, Rosaceae) is a deciduous tree native to the region of Northwest China between the Tarim Basin and the north slopes of the Kunlun Mountains, where it was first domesticated and cultivated. It bears edible juicy fruits with various characteristics, most called peaches and others, nectarines.

The peach tree is widely thought to have origins in China, but its evolutionary history is largely unknown. The oldest evidence for the peach has been Chinese archaeological records dating to 8000–7000 BP.

Various American Indian tribes are credited with migrating the peach tree across the United States, taking seeds along with them and planting as they roved the country. Today, California produces 65 percent of the total US crop of peaches.

Peaches are not only a popular fruit, but also are symbolic in many cultural traditions, such as in art, paintings, and folk tales such as Peaches of Immortality.

The Peach Blossom Spring is a fable written by Chinese poet Tao Yuanming (365-427) in 421 CE about “the chance discovery of an ethereal utopia where people lead an ideal existence in harmony with nature, unaware of the outside world for centuries.” 

This stunning video is generated by a model which simulates complex interactions within the tree, including growth, carbon partitioning among organs and responses to environmental, management and genetic factors. The model presented here is of a peach tree but is not calibrated to a specific tree.  Developed by Mitch Allen, P. Prusinkiewicz and T. DeJong in partnership with The Virtual Tree. From the UC DAVIS Fruit & Nut Research & Information Center.

WikiHow: How to Start a Peach Tree from a Pit / How to Plant a Peach Tree

Peach (Prunus persica)

The Heirloom Project with Roots and Shoots was created by ArtsEd4All to encourage the harvesting and sharing of free seeds with friends. The project shares stories and free resources about seed saving, planting and other small acts of kindness that can be taken to help pollinators, people and the environment.