“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.”
Robert Frost

Friday, April 20, 2012

More Trees Please

Earth Day is this Sunday, April 22nd. Today I am focusing on trees.  I have always been fond of trees. I spent many hours playing among the trees in our windbreak next to the house.  Our land had been in the family for over a hundred years and my great grandfather planted many trees and an orchard on our farm. After leaving home to go to college and then find a job, I realized how lucky I had been to have this experience as a child. Sadly, no one in my family wanted to manage a farm and the land has been sold and most of the trees have been cleared for farming.

I grew up on the Great Plains where areas of trees can be few and far between.  There are trees in windbreaks and a few in clumps around farmsteads but there are miles of land with no trees at all.  If you have ever driven across the Dakotas, Nebraska or Kansas you know what I mean.  That is somewhat the nature of the area; flashback two hundred years and think vast acres of tall grass and buffalo.  Now and then a fire started by lightening would burn out all the poor trees that happened to sprout there.  The grasslands persist to this day in some areas.  Much has been converted into farmland and grows wheat, corn and soybeans.  The photo below is probably a harvested cornfield. Even though I still feel that the plains states are lacking in trees, it was much more barren some 150 years ago. This all changed when J. Sterling Morton moved to Nebraska.


 


In 1854 J. Sterling Morton, a journalist from Michigan, brought his family to the Nebraska Territory and became editor of Nebraska's first newspaper.  He and his wife were both nature lovers, and their new homestead was quickly planted with trees, shrubs and flowers.  Through his newspaper, Morton spread his enthusiasm for planting trees.  Many other pioneers missed the trees of their homelands and embraced his ideas for agricultural plantings of windbreaks and shade trees.  The pioneers also grew trees for fuel and building materials.

Morton proposed a tree-planting holiday to be called "Arbor Day" to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture.   The first "Arbor Day" took place on April 10, 1872 and over one million trees were planted in Nebraska!  Originally April 22nd (Morton's birthday and now Earth Day) became the official date for Arbor day. Now it is typically celebrated on the last Friday of April. As Arbor Day spread around the world, it is celebrated on different days to coincide with the optimum planting time for trees in that area.

Morton's home still exists and is now the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arboretum and is located in Nebraska City, Nebraska. The surrounding area also includes Arbor Day Farm, Lied Lodge and much more.


 









More Trees Please

My husband and I have lived in several different parts of the country and over time decided that one thing we wanted was a home with trees. Not little stick trees that you see in all the new housing developments, but big mature trees. Years ago we built a house on a lot that had large mature trees. I was a plant novice at that time and did not realize until a few years later when they didn't leaf out in spring that they were American Elm trees. I cried the day they came and cut them down.

Now many years later I have a home with beautiful mature trees. We made sure none were elm trees this time. We have enjoyed them and nurtured them and admired their strength and beauty. Our trees  have brought us joy because of the all the wildlife they bring almost within our reach. A friend once said our house was like living in a tree house, because when you look out you are up high where the squirrels and birds live! We have sugar maple, ash, silver and Amur maple, spruce, pine, birch, mountain ash, mulberry, oak and willow on our property. They are not completely leafed out yet but here are a few pictures of some of our mighty trees.






Looking up the trunk of a large silver maple tree under the squirrel house.

Under the canopy of white birch, maple and ash trees.


When you celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day, I hope you remember this prayer for the trees.



The Forest's Prayer

"I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights,
the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun,
and my fruits are refreshing draughts quenching your
thirst as you journey on. 

I am the beam that holds your house, the board of your table,
the bed on which you lie, and the timber that builds your boat.

I am the handle of your hoe, the door of your homestead,
the wood of your cradle, the shell of your coffin.

I am the bread of kindness and the floor of beauty. 
You who pass by, listen to my prayer:  do me no harm."

Traditional Portuguese Prayer




Natasha in Oz
Earth Day Spirit at the Heart of a Wizardess

16 comments:

  1. Wow!!! Thanks for sharing such an awesome tribute! Magnificent..I have never heard this prayer before..how beautiful it is! Loved what you shared too..amazing!

    Thankyou for this deeply heart-touching post..magical photos..beautiful imagery!! yay..Happy Earth day kindred!
    Victoria

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    1. Thank you Victoria, your beautiful blog inspires me to do better!
      Happy Earth Day my magical earth guardian friend!

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  2. Diane, from this post, I have a totally new outlook on trees! I just hate picking up after them! That prayer is wonderful, and I have never seen it anywhere. Thanks for sharing this, and the shot of the squirrel house is great! xo

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    1. Maybe I will make you into a tree hugger! Our squirrels live there in the winter. We have to board it up in the spring/summer because of an unfortunate wood duck, mink incident. I love the forest prayer.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this Diane - you write so well! You are a lucky gal to live surrounded by so much beauty, and that little Ode to Trees is wonderful. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Thanks Sulky Kitten, you would love our yard, so many trees to climb!

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  4. I love trees, but they can be hard to grow in our cold, dry climate.

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  5. What a great post! And you are an amazing, captivating writer. I love trees. I wish we had a lot of land, so I can plant all my favourites. Since we bought our home three years ago, we've added a new maple (great trees for Canadian winters!); it will grow huge over time. We also added a lilac that won't grow very big, but will add spice to the garden. This year I hope to add another maple and a cherry tree. There are only so many we can add as our space is limited, but I will squeeze in a few. We had to cut down two cedars when we moved in. Previous owners had planted them against the home and they grew so big you couldn't open the gates to the backyard. I couldn't believe they hadn't thought it out before planting them there. They were much too big to transplant and it broke my heart to take them down. Last summer we had to cut down a maple tree in front of our home. Previous owners had planted that one too close to the home, too, and the roots were causing problems. It's too bad that people don't plan properly when it comes to trees. It's heartbreaking when one has to be removed because of a bad planting decision. Your trees are gorgeous. I can't wait to see photos of them in full bloom!

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    1. Thank you Martha! Our home is over fifty years old and most of the trees were planted by the previous owner. Some are not ideally planted but we are fortunate that none have needed to be cut down. Some of our neighbors have not been so lucky and it has been difficult to watch their trees come down(most were planted under power lines).

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  6. This is a really wonderful post Diane. I love all the different elements you have brought into it ending with the poem. I adore trees and have never been happier than I am now living at the edge of our magical fairy forest so I know just how you feel. Your photos are fabulous.

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  7. Wonderful post. I love anything in the willow tree family, love branches of trees that dangle. The Arbor Lodge is stunning! Diane

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  8. I really like that poem, I have never heard it before.
    I love trees of all kinds and wish we had more in our yard. The area we live in now is mostly farmland with trees like you described in the plains states. When we lived on the other side of the side I loved to visit all the old growth forests up and down the coast. Without trees we wouldn't be.

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  9. What an amazing, informative little story. I know what you mean about wanting to live surrounded by an abundance of trees. I yearn to live on a property with several acres of trees and pastures. How luck you are to have finally found your dream!!

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  10. This is such a beautiful post, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading it and seeing all your ‘photos. We have a small garden with a really old apple tree and a beautiful cherry, but nothing to match your amazing trees.

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  11. Wonderful and the music on your blog is so restful. Thank you! :)

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  12. I love trees. While the mountains are forested, the plains of Colorado can be very barren, and I think it's dryer here so trees are even harder to grow. I love your tree shots!

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Thank you for leaving a comment! I do read them all and will try to respond if I'm able. Please know that all comments are appreciated, I love to hear your thoughts on my posts! ~ Diane