Trees are your best antiques ~ Alexander Smith
This Friday is Arbor Day. It’s always the last Friday in April and is celebrated around the world. It’s a holiday marking the importance of trees in our daily lives. Many communities hold events which feature education about the benefits we receive from trees as well as how to plant and care for them.
The first American Arbor Day was held in Nebraska City, Nebraska on April 10, 1872. It was founded by two Nebraskans, J. Sterling Morton and Robert Furnas. An estimated one million trees were planted in Nebraska that day.
The Arbor Day Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit tree conservation and education organization. It was founded in 1972…100 years after our first Arbor Day…and has over one million members who are dedicated to planting trees. The mission statement of the National Arbor Day Foundation is: We inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.
I have a thing for trees. I admit it. I get attached to them. I think it started when I was in elementary school and read a biography about John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. He was born in Massachusetts but traveled west as a young man and would plant apple tree nurseries as he traveled across the Midwest. He would teach the locals how to care for them, then go back periodically to tend to the trees.
My first tree love was a weeping willow in the backyard of the house where I grew up. The long slender willow branches touched the ground and gave me a secret hideout. I remember playing house and school under that tree with my friends.
My grandmother’s farm had an apple orchard. As a girl, I would walk the orchard and say hello to each of the apple trees whenever I got to her house. Of course I had my favorite. The tree with the best tasting apples was also the one I liked to climb. On hot summer days, I would climb as high as I could and sit on a branch and eat apples and observe the farm from my lofty perch. Sometimes my cousins and I would hide in the apple trees and throw apples at one another. But that’s another story.
My favorite tree of all on my grandparent’s farm was the pear tree at the edge of the apple orchard. My grandmother knew how much I loved that tree and she would write or call and tell me when the tree was in full bloom with its white blossoms and when the pears were getting ready to eat. Sometimes I would help her can pears from that tree. But what I loved most of all, was reaching up and picking a beautiful perfect pear to eat while I walked around the farm.
I miss the plentiful evergreen trees of the Midwest. I have a natural affinity for evergreens. Maybe it’s because I have always loved Christmas Trees. I planted three blue spruce trees in the front yard of the house in Michigan where my children grew up. The trees grew along with my children and I had the privilege of watching them all grow.
Did you know we have a national tree? In 2004, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation designating the oak tree as America’s national tree because it is a symbol of great strength.
When my children were small, I used to tell them they were like little acorns and some day they would grow up to be tall and strong oak trees. They tease me about that now but they are all tall and strong so I was right.
We have a small volunteer evergreen that is growing underneath a crepe myrtle in our backyard. I’m thinking we should transplant it this Friday so it has plenty of space to grow. I suspect it will become a favorite too.
For more information about the many ways trees benefit our world, check out the Arbor Day Foundation website at www.arborday.org