FINAL FEBRUARY MUSINGS
February is such an important month! Think about it…..there’s a holiday that encourages people to send loving thoughts to one another. Then there’s a holiday in America that asks us to think about our Presidents and the qualities of leadership they should model for us. And then, every four years, there are the Winter Olympic Games, a chance for people around the world to consider the opportunities the snowy, colder months give to those living in wintry countries. It’s a good month!
Around Valentine’s Day, I noticed a news story about Melbourne, Australia. We have had camp staff who live in and around Melbourne. That city in southern Australia may not celebrate Valentine’s Day the way we do here in the US, but they have an annual year-long love story going for the beautiful trees that cool off and beautify their city. In 2013, in the middle of a devastating drought, Melbourne’s city council identified each of the city’s 70,000 trees by assigning them a number. They knew that protecting, enhancing and planting even more trees would help alleviate the drought. And then…imagination struck! Why not assign each one an email address, too. What would the citizens of Melbourne have to say to their long-standing arboreal co-citizens?
Well….since 2013, many, many emails have been written and sent to the Melbourne trees. Here’s a few, along with the responses. They will help you understand the amazing love story that plays out all year long “down under”. And yes! The trees respond!
To: Green Leaf Elm, Tree ID 1022165
Dear Green Leaf Elm,
I hope you like living at S. Mary’s. Most of the time I like it, too. I have exams coming up and I should be busy studying. You do not have exams because you are a tree. I don’t think that there is much more to talk about as we don’t have a lot in common, you being a tree and such. But I’m glad we’re in this together.
On May 29, 2015, the Green Leaf Elm replied:
I do like living here. I hope you do well in your exams. Research has shown that nature can influence the way people learn in a positive way, so I hope I inspire your learning.
Best wishes, Green Leaf Elm, Tree ID 1022165
On January 29, 2015, the following exchange occurred:
To: Willow Leaf Peppermint, Tree ID 1357982
Hello Mr. Willow Leaf Peppermint, or should I say Mrs. Willow Leaf Peppermint? Do trees have genders? I hope you have some nice sun today.
On January 30, 2015, Tree # 1357982 replied as follows:
Hello. I am not a Mr. or a Mrs., as I have what’s called perfect flowers that include both genders in my flower structure. Some tree species have only male or female flowers on individual plants and therefore do have genders. Some other trees have male flowers and female flowers on the same tree. It is all very confusing and quite amazing how diverse and complex trees can be.
Kind regards, Mr. and Mrs. Willow Leave Peppermint (same tree)
And on July 1, 2015, a Western Red Cedar, Tree ID 1058295 engaged in a political discussion with a writer. Imagine that!
Hi, Tree (wrote the questioner)—
Are you worried about being affected by the Greek debt crisis? Should Greece be allowed to stay in the European Union?
The Western Red Cedar replied the very next day!
I seem to remember the Greeks razed you to the ground one time—are you still angry at them? Greece is not out of the woods yet, but may be out of the EU……I don’t know, but then, I’m only a tree.
Regards, Western Red Cedar
The story I read that included these person-to-tree conversations, was written by Adrienne LaFrance, the editor of TheAtlantic.com. She finished her story as follows:
“The trees I have loved do not have email addresses. But if they did, I might take the time to remark on the lovely crook of one question-mark-shaped branch, and the softness of summer maple leaves dappling four o’clock sunlight onto my desk.”
Here at camp, of course, our trees do not have numbers or email addresses, but we appreciate each and every one for the gifts they give of beauty, shade, oxygen and breezes. Here in late February, their beauty is in the grays and browns of their barks mixed with the pleasant hues of the evergreens. By the time camp opens, however, it will be a different story! Each and every one of us will enjoy our woods, as a very diverse whole, while also appreciating each tree as an individual.
Finally, one email, written to Golden Elm #1037148 stated, and I agree, “You deserve to be known by more than a number. I love you. Always and forever.”
What a pleasant way to bring February, the month of love, to a close!