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The Worth of a Tree

March 30, 2021

I’m a big fan of trees. I love to admire their beauty in all seasons. My admiration for trees started when I was about 16 years old. A caring teacher used a tree as an example of standing tall and confident, quite unlike my cowering, shy self, afraid to bring my gaze up. So I started noticing trees. And for my high school graduation, I was given two different potted trees, affectionately known as Tree and Charlotte. (Wish I could say I still have them, but I did at least manage to keep them alive for several years.)

When I stopped to think about all the benefits we get from trees, I realized the list is a long one. One of my children has a sun allergy (yes, that’s a real thing) and has earned the nickname “shade chaser.” Trees are a life-saver for her, providing the necessary shade to protect her. Trees give us fruit, beauty, protection, privacy, habitat for wildlife, and help clean our air.

Trees are magnificent things. Most of my childhood was spent in regions of the country where trees and green fields were plentiful. But when I was about 12, we moved from an area of tall pines and dense forests to a very arid area. It was humorous to see signs along the highway that pointed out we were entering a forest in this new place – there were so few trees, all spaced a small distance apart, that we probably could have counted them from the car as we drove past. But those trees worked hard to absorb what little moisture they could find and do their best to grow.

So why am I writing about trees? Because planting a tree is a simple way to make a big difference in our environment. Certain types of trees are better at capturing carbon dioxide, but all trees contribute. A quick search on the internet yields all sorts of information on trees. Find a type that is rated for the climate zone you live in. Choose a type that will meet your goal – whether it’s one that will do the most good, bring the most joy, or provide the most beauty. Instructions and advice are a mere click away on the internet, or find someone who knows about such things. Make it a family activity. If you’re limited by space, potted trees are an option.

As a popular Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”