Gratitude for the Trees

Gratitude for Trees

There are no Truffula trees around here, but I am particularly thankful this season for the trees in my yard, neighborhood, parks, down along the river trail, and out in the forest. Over the past months, the value of trees keeps coming up in conferences, conversations, my Toastmasters club, and books and articles. You don’t have to be knocked in the head by a black walnut to realize how fortunate we are to be accompanied on life’s journey by trees.


Here, in no particular order, are some contemplations of gratitude for the trees.

Everyone seems to be running around this time of year. The trees remain ever-patient. They remind me to also be patient.

I like riding my bike along an avenue or path lined with trees. In the winter, the low-angle sunlight is filtered and focused by the filigree of a million branches and twigs. In the summer, the canopy casts a cool tunnel of green light.

I was raking the red maple leaves in my yard. A neighbor stopped and commented that she loved the sound of leaves being raked – I believe in contrast to the usual whine and roar of the mechanical alternatives. It reminded me that there are sounds associated with trees in all seasons. Rattling, rushing, crackling, and crinkling. In the late winter, you can hear the sap rising.

I have been fortunate to gather wisdom from the many tree advocates in my professional and personal life. How to truly engage communities about trees. The arts of planning, preparing, planting, and caring.

Here are some native options for edible landscaping in my area: Black walnut, Serviceberry, American Persimmon, American Hazelnut.

Down by the river, almost all the trees are laden with vines that reach, climb, and pull. How can we help the trees?

After a rain storm, it keeps dripping under a large tree for a long time – each tree a mini hydrologic cycle.

Several years ago, I rode the length of the C&O towpath on my bicycle. I was alone for much of the journey, but the trees that lined the path and riverbank made for good company. Here is a small tribute to some of the common ones:

Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) – paragon of forthrightness. . .straight of spine and head held high.

Boxelder (Acer negundo) – like a gangly, awkward teenager with sprouts and shoots coming out every which-way. . .you picked tough over pretty, and I honor you for that.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) – seeing your creamy crown glow on a sunny autumn afternoon renews my belief in the Almighty.

Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) – very small person’s climbing wall (see link to blog post below).

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) – as for your prolific production of round yellow-green husks, I have turned my ankle more than once on those, but grateful the contact was with foot rather than head.

Red Maple (Acer rubrum) – floodplain’s friend, and to the one on the south side of my house, my rake’s raison d’etre in the Fall.

White Oak (Quercus alba) – Regal with a royal crown, surveying your domain from on high.

Here are some past blog posts on the topic of trees:

Ode to Acer Rubrum

Hackberry: Very Small Person’s Climbing Wall

The Winter Woods are Calling

May the trees enliven and enrich your holiday season!

David J. Hirschman, [email protected]

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