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Make the earth smile – plant a tree

Wherein the editor ponders the general attitude towards trees and reveals her true tree-hugging nature.

I was watching a neighbour cutting down a big old tree in their backyard the other day. It was rotten – and I’m not making a personal judgment here – and needed to be taken down safely.

But it made me think, in the 13 years that I’ve lived here, about how many big trees that have come down around my street – and none have been replaced.

At the turn of the century (to old folks like me, that means the 1900s) Joyce Kilmer wrote:

I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear a nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.

Although, I like Ogden Nash’s version just as well:

I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree.

Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.

Maybe it’s my Ontario roots showing, but I love trees. I really don’t understand some people’s opinion that they are nuisances. Sure, mowing the grass under my apple and pear trees mean that I have to keep ducking under the branches, but I wouldn’t consider cutting them down until they’re dead. I love the blossoms, the leaves, the fruit, the bees (not the wasps) and the birds that inhabit them.

If you want to offset your carbon footprint, plant a tree – but avoid nitrogen-based fertilizers. Such fertilizers result in increased emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas.

Trees provide many environmental, energy and social benefits for us. For the past few years, I’ve been nurturing a mountain ash “bush” in the front yard for eventual shade, bird viewing and aesthetics.

Go ahead and hug a tree – it’s good for you. And they hug back.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal

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