“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” Chinese Proverb
Trees are incredible. Really. That’s all there is to it.
I internalized the above truth at a young age because Mom appreciated trees. Grandma’s house had pear trees in the back yard. The tree in our back yard sheltered squirrels and birds that we always fed. The one in the front was good for climbing. The picture above the couch was of a trail through some trees. Oh, it always looked so peaceful and welcoming. Mom’s favorite poem was even “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer, written in 1914. I was quite young when I committed that poem to memory. I have memories of Mom reciting it too!
Yes, I always saw trees as special. It was a given that trees were friends, symbols of life and hope, and eventually a connection to the spiritual. As I got older, it became clear there is even more to know about these marvelous living organisms. The facts show how integral trees are to life on earth, to our very existence. Trees live just about everywhere. They give us food, shelter and shade. Without trees, we would not have fruits and nuts to eat, a fire burning in the hearth, or buildings to live in and paper to write on. And we would run out of oxygen pretty quickly too.
- There are over 23,000 different kinds of trees in the world.
- About one third of the United States of America is covered by forests.
- According to a recent forest inventory, there are almost 247 billion trees over one inch in diameter in the U.S.
- A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and can sequester 1 ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old.
- One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.
- Each year, one person uses wood and paper products equivalent to a 100 foot tree 18 inches in diameter.
- Over 5,000 products are made from trees.
- In one year, an acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven up to 8700 miles.
- Trees provide shade and shelter, reducing yearly heating and cooling costs by 2.1 billion dollars.
- The tallest species of trees in the world include the Coast Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Coast Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce and Australian Mountain Ash.
- Trees are some of the oldest living organism on earth. Live Oaks can live to be over 500 years, many giant sequoia trees are 2,500 years old, and some bristlecone pines are thought to be over 5,000 years old.
But what truly impresses me about trees is their beauty and variety. The many shades of green in the leaves are remarkable, and—by contrast—they showcase the white and pink blossoms of spring and the red and yellow leaves of autumn. Then there are the evergreens that demonstrate perseverance and constancy. One tree can stand alone in a field or overlook a cliff, or it can crowd together with others in a forest dense with growth. Even when they die, they decompose and help new life spring forth. Following a path through the trees as sunlight filters through the boughs is magical. Standing next to a Giant Redwood or Sequoia reminds us just small we are in the scheme of things.
Yes. Trees are incredible. Really. That’s all there is to it.
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HERE ARE SOME QUOTES THAT FURTHER EXPLORE THE WONDER OF TREES.
“You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honored to have so venerable a neighbor, even when it sheds its needles all over your flowers or wakes you, dropping big cones onto your deck at still of night.” Denise Levertov
I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines. Henry David Thoreau
“Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk?” Alice Walker in The Color Purple
“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!” John Muir
“The groves were God’s first temples.” William Cullen Bryant
“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.” John Muir
“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.” Martin Luther
“There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but out hearts must be very quiet to hear it.” Minnie Aumonier
“The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation for old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.” Robert Louis Stevenson
“He who plans a tree plants a hope.” Lucy Larcom
“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Nelson Henderson
“Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.” Rabindranath Tagore
“If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.” Hal Borland
“A tree never hits an automobile except in self defense.” American Proverb
“Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” Cree Proverb
“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” Martin Luther
“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” e. e. cummings
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” John Muir
“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The trees are God’s great alphabet: With them He writes in shining green across the world His thoughts serene.” Leonora Speyer
HERE ARE SOME OF THE LINKS I USED TO ROOT OUT DETAILS ABOUT TREES.
(Pun intended, sorry!)