Bill brought home the Arbor Day T-shirts last week. His friend Betty from the Idaho Forest Products Commission had sent him a supply for the family. I'm wearing mine today because it's Arbor Day, and we need to honor our trees.
Last year, I attended the Arbor Day activities at Lakeview Park where school children could go to various stations and learn things about trees from members of the Native Plant Society. Afterward, Mayor Miller and Bill said a few words while noting Sandpoint's status as a tree city. Bill serves on the city tree committee, and he's an active member of the regional chapter of the Society of American Foresters.
He also uses the handle LoblollyLove in his geocache activities---the loblolly pine is as common in his native Louisiana as the white pine once was here in North Idaho. Heavy logging early in the twentieth century, along with blister rust infestations, took a toll on our pinus monticolas. So, we tend to see more lodgepole and ponderosa pine around here.
With today being Arbor Day, I'm gonna encourage folks to go hug their favorite tree or trees. After all, these magnificent members of our natural world don't often get the respect they deserve for just patiently standing there all those years, looking over us, holding our birds, squirrels, cats, etc., giving us shade and in some cases giving us thrills when the wind blows them back and forth.
Granted, some of them keep us pretty busy, especially in the fall when they drop their leaves, but that always follows one of the best outdoor art shows of the year. After all, when you put on a show like our Aspens and birch do each fall, you deserve to let down your hair-er--leaves a bit.
We have a variety of tree species here at our place. When we look south toward the pond, we can admire a couple of dozen volunteer pines of varying species. Nearly thirty years ago, that area was simply an open field with not a tree to be seen. All those have sprouted up on their own and grown to a size that puts out a little shade in the summer time now.
A walk around the pond reveals an ever-growing number of cottonwood trees that attract an ever-growing number of birds every year. Occasionally, we'll look out there and see a hawk perched atop the tallest of the small grove where mice have created a network of tunnels along the pathway below. Early this spring, a lone meadowlark sat in that same tree, singing its familiar song of the open fields.
As I look out the front window from the computer, I see several aspen, including the granddaddy of them all, surrounding the front yard. Aspen grow abundantly here, and that's good because the young stock usually have a rough go of it in the summer time when Rambo and Casey are searching out scratching trees. The little trees provide such nice sensations that their tops often fall victim to those eager horse bellies bending them back and forth.
One of my favorite trees stands just ten feet from the front porch. It's a locust which always looks old and grizzled as if its died---until suddenly, its newest crop of fragrant flowers fills the air with the sweetest smell of early summer---even better than newly-mown hay.
We've also got a nut tree. It's near the bunkhouse. I didn't know it was a nut tree until one year when I found a single hazelnut on the ground below it. I could not figure out until the next year, when there were about half a dozen, where the heck that nut came from. Since then, we've been getting a pretty nice supply that drop off each fall.
Our home is surrounded by beautiful blue spruce. They're gorgeous but scary---especially when wild winds seemingly threaten to blow them right into the house. I have been known to go to opposite ends of the house, depending on which way the wind is roaring when these storms come up. So far, the trees continue to stand when they're not on those bending sprees.
Probably the most nostalgic, distinctive tree on the farm stands just outside the south corner of the barnyard. It's the huge willow. If interviewed, it would probably have the biggest supply of stories to tell---the children playing in its tree house (or apartment, as Willie and Annie used to call it), the night of the house fire when Willie sat wide-eyed, watching the flames within its protective boughs, the many years that Simon Feist's giant Belgian gelding Chief enjoyed its shade, or the Love horses always nibbling at its seemingly endless bouquet of green and yellow limbs.
That willow is a majestic tree about 3.5 feet in diameter with one low-hanging limb that extends at least twenty feet to the west. I always have to duck when I pass under it on the riding lawnmower. I love that grand old tree, but I don't love cleaning up its fall leaves, which have to number into the millions.
There are several more trees on this place to write of today, but if I spend all my time writing about them, I won't have time to hug 'em all and let 'em know how much I appreciate them for the beauty they add every day to our home and to our world.
Happy hugging on this Arbor Day, 2006.