Trees
This week let’s think about something that is ever present in our lives, but which we seldom spend time to appreciate, Trees.
 
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth's sweet 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 blossom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems were made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree.
                                          --- Joyce Kilmer
 
The following prayer is in English, but in its original language it has been used in Portuguese forest preservations for more than 1,000 years.  Notice that it highlights much of what trees do for us.

I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights, the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun, and my fruits are refreshing draughts quenching your thirst as you journey on.
I am the beam that holds your house, the board of your table, the bed on which you lie, and the timber that builds your boat.
I am the handle of your hoe, the door of your homestead, the wood of your cradle, and the shell of your coffin.
I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty. 'Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer: Harm me not.



One of the most important things that living trees do for us is to convert Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen, in counterpoint to the way we convert Oxygen into Carbon Dioxide as we breathe.  Trees are not the only thing that does that, but they have perhaps been the most significant.  The Amazon Rainforest, “the lungs of the Earth” is on fire in so many places today that the G-7 has held a conference to discuss any remedial action that could be taken, a clear indication of the seriousness of the situation.  Offers of help have been made to the Brazilian Government, but none have been accepted.  The fires rage on.
 
Current estimates tell us that there are about 3.04 trillion trees on the planet, sounds like a nice big number doesn’t it?  Also note that the current estimate of the annual human tree harvest is 15 billion, we also plant 5 billion.  That’s a nominal loss of about 10 billion trees a year but bear in mind that trees can take many years to grow to a significant size.  At the rate we’re going, there will be no trees left on earth in 300 years.
 
So, what can we do?   Simple answer, plant more trees and shrubs.
 
A parting thought:
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.
- Ogden Nash, Song of the Open Road, 1933
 
Helpful Hint: plant a tree now
 
This fall we can look to see if we can add a tree or shrub. 
  • Shrubs provide protection around the house. 
  • Deciduous trees provide shade in the summer and allow the sun’s heat to warm our homes in winter. 
  • Evergreen trees are good wind protectors. 
  • Trees can reduce cooling costs by 30% in summer and heating bills by 20-50% in the winter. 
  • Many local nurseries and Lowes and Home Depot are having sales. 
 
Note: For fall planting, it is advised to plant about 3 weeks before a hard frost which essentially means before the mid-October.  Check with nurseries in the area to confirm what is appropriate for your particular tree or shrub.