Last week, I had to report for jury duty. Not knowing what to expect, I brought a bag full of books to read. I did not succeed in reading one sentence, however; because the lady sitting next to me was a lot of fun to talk to! After learning about my tree related occupation, she began professing her love of willows. Her fond memories of giggling children hiding among weeping branches brought a sparkle to her eyes. At a former residence, she had planted three weeping willows in the front yard. She was so taken with their beauty and grace that she dubbed her home, "Three Willows". Her story is very familiar to me, because I think I can honestly say that EVERYONE who has come to the farm looking for willow trees shares the same reverence for them.
Quaking aspens seem to have a similar effect on people. The sound their leaves make when they rustle in the wind really resonates. I remember calling them "cinnamon trees" when I was a kid, because I thought they shared a similar aroma. When I walked past a particular stand, I would always pause and listen and sniff. Sometimes I wouldn't find the smell I was searching for and other times, I would just stand there and take it in. Nowadays, I still notice that sweet fragrance whenever I am hiking in the woods. A whiff of perfume and a whisper of wind take me to a peaceful place of memories. I'm not the only one.
Stately elms and oaks linger in our minds' eyes too. The presence that such trees have is hard to put into words. What they must have "seen" during their years, just standing in one place, is food for thought. How many birds and squirrels must they have accommodated? How many people passed beneath their arching canopies on their trips to and from countless destinations? When you really think about it, trees are much more like family members or peaceful neighbors than yard decorations. We want them around us and we're willing to do extensive work to make it so. If we allow them to be, they are fully interactive.
I attended a short seminar at Northern Green this year called, "Speak Up For Trees". Our speaker is a very neat lady, who has been working in horticulture for many years. Her Lorax themed talk provided ideas for engaging people in community tree planting projects. She rattled off typical tree planting incentives, such reducing energy costs and improving air quality. More intriguing to me, were the statistics she shared on how trees reduce crime, speed healing and even increase the birth weights of babies. There is actually a National Tree Benefits Calculator that can help you put a monetary value on your trees if you are so inclined. While all of these (and oodles more which I neglected to mention) are wonderful reasons to plant trees, I can't get past the fact that we plant trees because it is inherent for us to do so. Throughout the course of our existence as humans, we have learned that there are plenty of perfectly good, intangible reasons for having trees around. Thank goodness that's the case. Trees make memories; plain and simple.