I have always loved trees. From the time I was seven years old, I knew I wanted to be a Forest Ranger or something along those lines. Ultimately, I became a Forester. Many of my childhood memories escape me, but for whatever reason I remember specific trees and their location vividly. Is that engrained in who we are? Or was it because we were always camping when I was young?
Name one of the 500+ trees and plants I know and I can take you to one no problem… it maybe a state or two away, but I know exactly where one is located. With so much commercialism today, it saddens me that so many people, kids especially, know a thousand corporate logos (literally), but don’t know 10 trees in their own backyard.
I use this saying all the time with my kids, please feel free to take for your own use… “If they have to have a commercial for it, you don’t really need it. If you really needed it, you’d already have it or you’d know where to get it.” Believe it or not, my kids get it. Don’t get me wrong, they need lots of reminding, but they get it! Hallelujah!!!
This post is for the appreciation I have for trees of which my words would never do justice, so I am sharing the words of a few others. It was a hundred years ago this month, Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem Trees was published (see below). If you are ever in the western North Carolina area, you should check out Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. The forest is 3,800 acres of old-growth that was spared the axe back in 1936 — a story unto itself.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
More on trees…
This Prayer of the Woods was first used in the PORTUGUESE FOREST RESERVES more than 1,000 years ago. Now used on nature trails throughout the world.
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 flower of beauty. Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer: harm me not.
From the second article in a series, Primitive Survival Skills in the 21st Century by our good friend Mark Warren. You can find the first article HERE.
….The Cherokees called the trees “The Standing People.” Their choice of words is profound. “Standing” does not refer only to the upright posture of tree trunks. It reminds that the trees do not move around in the search for food. “People” denotes some kind of sentient capacity for awareness – a primordial feature of all plants discovered by our scientists only in the last few decades. In other words, when you think you are alone in the forest … you’re not.
All of us were introduced to the former concept (“standing”) in high school through a rather dry interpretation of photosynthesis. It’s a pity how cold and lifeless the presentations were, because this miraculous process is the linchpin equation for every single beat of our hearts, every step we walk, literally every move we make and thought we entertain. Plants supply us with every ounce of energy we burn by first capturing it from the sun. The sun produces the fuel that runs us. The plants deliver it. This little known fact about life on Earth – or at least one that we don’t fully acknowledge – ought to take a front seat in our consciousness. Let me briefly put it to you again in such a way that your entire perspective on life might be forever changed!
~ Revisiting a Miracle ~
Physicists of Einstein’s era learned that sunlight contains energy – packets of it. Those packets might as well be encased in blocks of solid steel, for we can’t open them. Only the green plants can.
Just a tiny sliver of the sun’s total output touches our planet. But it is enough. That sliver would fall impotent upon the Earth (other than warming it) and for the most part reflect away were it not for the green plants. It is the “green” of plants that absorbs energy. And so plants are our allies in the life-on-Earth equation. They are the middlemen, capturing solar energy so that it is available to every living thing. Where do they store it? In the food they make. We call it sap.
So, while all the animals of the forest – fox, deer, snake, etc. – are spending almost all their waking time in the search for food, the green plants are making it. And in the process, with each solar-brewed batch of sap, two by-products are worth mentioning: 1.) A gas is made by the plant. It’s the gas we breathe. 2.) And a gas is absorbed – the one we exhale as a waste.
If you are sitting by a window right now, look outside at a tree. If the last three paragraphs sank in, I’m betting that tree is looking a little different to you now. It’s more than pleasing to the eye. It’s crucial, regal, highly specialized, salubrious, beneficent, and very cooperative.
Check out our page on the Flora of North America