Earth Day 2020: In Celebration of Trees

“When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer just chop them down and disrupt their lives with large machines.”
–Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees

Being a Mainer, I love trees too much to live in a place without them.  All my life I have been surrounded by trees—first in a neighborhood, then in the country, and now in a small forest.

Around our home we have tall dark pines, massive oaks, solid maples that blaze in the fall, and slender beeches that keep their leaves all through the winter. When I sit on my patio and look up through the tree branches, I feel as though the trees are holding me.

Trees tell the story of the seasons. They harbor birds and give shelter to many other creatures. They provide food, oxygen, and shade. According to the writer Peter Wohlleben trees are even able to form a kind of society.

Why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old.

On a deep, psychological level, trees give us rich material for myths and stories, and  Arthur Rackham’s illustration is a haunting example of this.

And who could forget Tolkien’s ents, sentient creatures that lived in a slow time of their own?

Is it too much to claim that trees embody the life-force of the planet?  Not for this tree lover.

Therefore in honor of Earth Day, here are a few pictures of trees through the seasons, in my yard and around town.

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And now for a complete change of tone. Shannon is our Earth-Day daughter, born on April 22 many years ago. This is a hard time for celebrating much of anything. Therefore I am posting a picture of happier times, when our dear Liam was just a puppy and Shannon was having a jolly trot with him along the public beach in town. Makes me smile just to look at it. Happy, happy birthday, Shannon.


54 thoughts on “Earth Day 2020: In Celebration of Trees”

  1. Awww, that’s a great picture. I like those tree photos. The trees really do help us, and sometimes I think of the things they’ve experienced over time.

  2. Thank you!! 🎉🎉🎂🎂 Liam was the most adorable of puppies! Such joy in his face!

  3. A lovely tribute for Earth Day Laurie and what a blessing to live among these beautiful trees. Happy birthday wishes for Shannon too and hopefully you will be able to celebrate together before too long 💚 xxx

  4. Such beautiful tree photos, Laurie. And such wonderful words. I’m sure this is the best Earth Day ever, for our Earth. We are finally all behaving ourselves and not polluting her at a rate she cannot bear.

    Happy birthday to Shannon!

  5. Thank you for mentioning Ents. They always seemed possible to me — at least in the long. long ago. Sometimes I have to give a gnarly old oak or maple a second look. And then I wonder …

  6. I wasn’t thinking of Earth Day, particularly, today. But, I did dig 4 holes (about 3 feet in diameter), mixed in compost, etc. in preparation for 4 dwarf cherry trees. The Mrs. asked about putting in two. When we looked at the space, I suggested four. Now the two new pawpaws will go around the corner and two crab apples a little beyond them. More holes to dig. – Oscar

  7. HB Shannon! What a great day to born. 🙂 Love the photos with Liam, awww… 🙂
    I share your love of trees and cannot imagine living without them, how I love my deciduous forest! They do feel like wise and loving friends. ❤

  8. Recently we heard a really interesting talk by an American author, David George Haskell. He has written a book called The Song of Trees with many of the same ideas and themes as Peter Wohlleben. Lovely to see the photos of all your trees in different seasons.
    Happy birthday to Shannon, (it is Paul’s birthday on 22nd too) she and Liam look so happy running along together, it brings back memories of our girls with our beloved dog.

  9. Happy birthday wishes to your daughter and wonderful Earth Day this year. Nature is blossoming in its full glory with less interaction of human beings.

  10. You know I love trees too! I found Peter Wollheben’s book inspiring too. Lovely photos and a lovely daughter.

  11. A Happy Belated Birthday to Shannon!

    A beautiful selection of tree pictures and I love Arthur Rackham’s illustration, Laurie. And yes, the Ents were among my favorite Tolkien characters. 🙂

  12. I’ve just realised that when you sent me off searching about the Hidden Life of Trees, I never made it back! Your seasonal pictures are lovely. I’ve long liked Arthur Rackham’s work, but have never read Tolkein, so don’t know the Ents.

    I’m sending a belated happy birthday to your sweet Earth Day girl!

  13. I have read that some trees communicate through their roots and actually do form communities. We live in town, but in a very leafy neighborhood. We have pecans (the gift that keeps on giving, all year round, or as a friend says, “pecans are self-pruning”) and a huge elm in our neighbor’s yard, over our fence, directly. over. the. pool. The pool guy wants to go chop it down. But I still love them and can’t imagine our yard without the trees, and all the birds and squirrels that live in them.

  14. A belated Happy Birthday to Shannon and a joyous Earth Day to you, Laurie! I have Peter Wohlleben’s book but haven’t got around to reading it yet.

  15. I loved trees as a child and named them. I talked to them naturally . . I still do. The social aspect of trees fascinates me. So does their beauty. Happy birthday Shannon!

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