Planting a tree as an aid to tree-deprivation
May 3, 2012
Nature writer Barry Lopez once wrote that, in despair, we should step onto wounded ground and plant a tree.
After attending the first meeting of a group forming a tree growers association I feel the need to plant trees. I’m glad to know that Hannah Schechter is leading an organization called Project Learning Tree that will bring students to a tree farm and teach them how to plant a tree. Then, each child will bring home a tree to plant at their house.
Living in Granby, I feel tree-deprived.
At first I thought it was because there seemed to be only two kinds of trees in Grand County; pines up high and aspens down low. I thought with all the logging, there are even fewer trees to admire. But after a trip to New Hampshire and Maine last year, I realized while driving around New England that I was confined by trees on both sides of roads. I couldn’t see the horizon while driving and I couldn’t see weather coming in the distance. I was socked in by trees on all sides and had to look up to see the clouds. It was tree overload.
When I came back to the West’s “wide open spaces” and could see a storm coming by looking out my window, I knew that I felt tree-deprived because I grew up with trees all around me – and I took them for granted.
I remember flying back to Boston after my first trip out West many years ago and talking to a women next to me who was visiting Boston for the first time.
“I can’t wait to see all the trees,” she said.
I remember thinking that I never really noticed them that much, and when I looked out the window, yes, indeed there were a lot of trees in Massachusetts.
A recent comment from a New Hampshire friend about a photo of me in Granby, “Don’t you miss trees?”
There were trees on the hills in the distance, but none near me in the photo.
“Yes, I miss the trees,” I replied back. I miss all kinds of trees and now I notice trees wherever I travel.
While driving in Denver I quiz my passengers on tree names. I never remember what they say, but they are so beautiful and I like hearing the names.
While traveling to Arizona I admire the palm trees and take photos of all flowering plants as I walk through Phoenix.
Driving through Idaho, I am in awe of the conical-shaped pine trees in seemingly perfect rows, all over the mountains. And they are all dark green.
Last month in the Dominican Republic the first thing I noticed flying over the island was trees. Once on the beach, I stared in awe at the different palm trees lining the beach.
I wish I could remember the different types of trees. Despite reading books about trees, and listening to foresters and biologists talk about trees, I cannot remember names. When I lived in Steamboat my friend Matt decided my nickname would be “lodgepole pine.” Lodgepole pine trees may be the only type of tree, other than a Ponderosa, that I can identify.
Despite the dismal landscape of beetle-killed trees still standing and laying on the ground, I am encouraged by the new forest that is popping up all over the county. I love seeing the young, new, green trees on hikes and while driving forest roads. Seeing them gives me hope of a renewed forest, which I know will come.
However, when I saw the new trees at the YMCA with brown needles, I thought the pine beetle have come back for a second round. I called Ryan McNertney at the state forest office to ask what was going on.
It’s not the beetles this time, he said.
“They are burnt from the lack of snow cover over the winter. The trees are fried, he said.
The new growth that sprouted after the logging at the YMCA are about 3- to 5-years-old. They just aren’t hardy enough yet, said McNertney.
“Spruce and fir are not used to the sun. They tend to grow better in the shade. With the wind and sun they really burned up.”
Which brings me back to planting trees.
One way to get over being tree-deprived is to plant some trees. I’m glad the county will have a tree growers association and I want to learn more about trees and how to plant them. May 20 is a tree planting workshop at 1 p.m. at the Fraser Historic Church. The Colorado State Forest Service has information on its website about where to buy seedlings and advice about what types of trees to plant: csfs.colostate.edu/pages/buying-trees.html.
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