“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.