Monday, March 10, 2014

Trees and Me

I love trees. When I was a young girl I liked to climb in any tree that would hold my skinny, little body. My favorite was a mulberry tree in our backyard. Sometimes I would take my dolls up with me. I was a bit of an anomaly, a tomboy who liked dolls. I guess I thought my vinyl children would appreciate the view. 

One time my young niece, Michele was missing. My mom thought I had climbed up the tree with her new grandchild. I didn’t. Not because I wouldn’t. I just didn’t think about it. They found baby Michele had rolled off the bed and had fallen asleep between the bed and the wall. The sleeping tyke was unscathed and I was off the hook (that time anyway.) However, in my mind’s eye I can still see my mother clad in her apron, hair in pin curlers, flailing her arms and warning me that if I had the baby up there I had to bring her down right this instant! 

Sometimes my brother, Terry, would climb the tree with me, but mostly this was a solitary expedition. Terry needed a reason to climb – to dislodge an errant ball or drop bombs on an enemy when we played war. I just liked to climb up the tree and contemplate life. I remember thinking I was closer to Jesus when I was in the tree. At the time our family attended a Nazarene church. I would later convert to two other religions in my life – first Judaism and then Buddhism, but I think I may have had an insight about trees and spirituality. When we are in nature, we are closer to our spiritual essence. 

I admit it, I’m sentimental about my leafy-limbed friends.  The first PAID freelance story I wrote was about an unwanted Christmas tree. Ironically the $30 (and priceless excitement) I earned from that story is more than I earn from writing this blog. But sometimes you just have to do what makes you feel good – in spite of compensation.

Trees were an integral part of my first job after I graduated from college. As the newly hired public relations coordinator for Mesa Parks, Recreation and Cultural Division I became the spokesperson for our Arbor Day program. I remember listening with pride as our mayor and members of the Parks and Recreation board spoke the words I wrote about the importance of trees. Our city even won an award for their environmental efforts.  Another one of my duties was heading the tree donation program. I encouraged people to buy live Christmas trees and donate them to the parks, donate trees to honor births, anniversaries and deaths, as well as choosing trees (as opposed to other gifts) to celebrate years of government service.  I am proud to say that under my direction the program become so successful that it was disbanded. True story. We didn’t have enough room in the parks for the number of trees that people wanted to donate. 

Eventually my job was trimmed from the budget as well, but my love of trees has continued to grow. That is why I was excited to accompany my spouse, CB, to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. I love to amble among the trees, shrubs and plants, listen to the chirping of birds and watch the butterflies. There is such an awesome diversity of plant life at this arboretum. When I walk the dusty roads I can imagine an Australian billabong,

an English herb garden or how the Native Americans used plant life for building materials and medicinal use. 

On this excursion we learned about the importance of bees. I have new respect for the little buzzers and the vital role they play in our environment. We have lots of bees in our yard. We don’t spray pesticides or herbicides, we have colorful plants and we have a little pond, so our house is a little Mecca for the  rugby-clad insects. I admit, I’ve been stung a time or two in my life, so bees, wasps, hornets and other stinging bugs make me nervous. But I know if I leave them alone we will both be fine. I feel the same way about people who don’t share my political beliefs. But that is another story.

However, when it comes to trees and other things in nature, I do believe we should do our best to speak out and protect them. I don’t want to go into a diatribe, but I must say that I believe that we need to live in harmony with our environment if we are to survive as a species. This is a physical and spiritual reality.

As I walked through the arboretum I marveled at butterflies, watched in amazement to see a scarlet-red cardinal fly by and took in the fragrant smell of flowers and blossoms. Amongst the trees and plants I felt like a kid again.

I recently bought a new phone and took several pictures during my little stroll. I have probably taken 30 pictures in my life. Ten of them were taken at the arboretum.

There is something about being amongst the trees that makes me want to share. I guess that’s how it was when I was climbing the mulberry tree with my dolls. The view from a tree top is like no other.

In conclusion I just want to encourage everyone who has ever loved a tree, to love them all.  One of my favorite quotes is from John Muir (who shares my birthday – same day – different year.) On behalf of all my woody friends, here it is.

“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.”

So my thoughtful and intelligent readers, here is one last bit of advice. This is something I channeled from my dear, deceased mother. Admire a tree, save a tree, but don’t climb it with a baby in your arms or else!

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