The Trees That Rock

The picture above is a screenshot from Google Maps’ satellite view. If it looks like a regular old forest-y area with a lot of roads running through it, you’re right — that’s pretty much what it is. But pay close attention to the center-ish of the image, and you’ll see a small horizontal bar of what appears to be darker-than-expected trees. It’s easy to miss, though, so let’s make it easy. 

That. In the red circle. Got it? Great.

Now, let’s zoom in. Here’s a picture captured by the Weather Channel, and you’ll see our mystery trees aren’t a natural phenomenon. It’s a guitar.

Now, trees and various other shrubberies don’t magically align themselves into the shapes of musical instruments, especially not at a scale large enough to be captured by satellite. It takes a lot of work, effort, and in this case, a broken heart.

The guitar is located in rural Argentina (here’s a map) and is owned and maintained by a farmer named Pedro Martín Ureta. In the 1970s, as Atlas Obscura reports, “after flying over fields [nearby] that resembled a milk pail, Pedro Ureta’s wife Graciela suggested they embed a design into their own fields.” Graciela dreamed about creating a guitar in their land, like the one seen above, but the couple didn’t act on the idea — not until tragedy struck. In 1977, Graciela died unexpectedly at age 25, leaving Pedro and four children behind.

Heartbroken but inspired to honor his wife’s memory, Pedro ultimately took to landscaping. And by and large, he did the work himself. According to the Wall Street Journal, “a few years after his wife’s death, Mr. Ureta decided to comply with her wishes about the design of the farm. Landscapers he consulted were predictably nonplussed, so he took on the job himself.” It’s mostly made of dark green cypress trees, per the Journal, but “for the strings, Mr. Ureta planted six rows of eucalyptus trees, whose bluish tone offers a contrast visible from above.” Here’s what it looks like from close up (but still above) via Atlas Obscura.

Decades later, Ureta and his children maintain the guitar for all to see. But Pedro Ureta himself has never seen it from above with his own eyes; according to various reports, he’s afraid of flying.

Bonus fact: In the late 1930s, a guy named Leo Fender opened up an electronic repair shop and quickly discovered that he could improve on the designs of many of the things he fixed — specifically, electrical musical instruments and amplifiers. In 1946, he opened the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, making guitars. Today, Fender (as it’s commonly known) is a leading brand of guitar manufacturing and culture. But Leo Fender himself probably didn’t participate in that culture as much as others; as their corporate website notes, he didn’t play the guitar: “Leo wasn’t a guitarist, and legend says he didn’t know how to tune a guitar either.”

From the Archives: The Trees of Hate: Basically, the opposite of today’s main story, using a similar tree-planting tactic.