I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree. -
There are few things lovelier than a tree to me. Trees bring a sense of peace, contentment, and happiness to my soul, and help to calm my mind. Growing up in a state known for its great forests, being a part of a family where camping, back packing, and out of door activities were the norm, trees and their energy have played a great part in my life and have been an extended part of my family as long as I can remember. Exclaiming over a trees beauty, uniqueness, and intricacies were common place, especially with my father, as were tears being shed over their injuries, and anger expressed over their senseless deaths in the name of “progress”.
When life took me away from my forests, and brought me to the prairie, it was a conscious choice to find an area that still retained some form of nature, trees that were older than the neighborhoods that had developed over time. Finding a home on the edges of what was once a part of the Big Woods that extended down from Wisconsin into Illinois, I established time to visit those places which would feed my soul again, take me away from the burning, unfiltered sunlight and transport me into the realm of the tree which soothed my soul. Living on a street lined with stately ash trees, they too became a part of my extended family. A few years back it was discovered that the emerald ash borer had invaded our county, and indeed my town. As the name suggests this brilliantly green bug likes to lay its eggs inside of ash trees, eating the interior of the tree away. Unfortunately for the tree this is not a situation that has a mutual benefit. Once a tree is infected there isn’t much hope for the trees survival, and our neighborhoods and their energy are being ravaged by the emerald ash borer. Entire neighborhoods lose their hospitality, their feeling of being established and warm when the trees slowly die and must come down. This year alone I will lose six trees to the emerald ash borer. Many of these trees are old friends who call a greeting to me daily, have laughed in delight at the antics of the children and dog at play, sheltered a curious kitty and sung in happiness and contentment as trees do. They’ve been witnesses to the changes of my neighborhood, seen many a family come and go, delighted in the energy of young children as they walk to and from school, and so much more. Trees are beings that generally are very happy with their life, and situation. I have come across trees horribly disfigured by well intentioned individuals trying to save the tree while hacking away the majority of their body to allow electrical or phone lines have the room they need to be placed right in the path of the trees life energy. Still the tree sang and was content because they were close to their friends and partner. It did not bother them that they were not whole; instead they’d found a way to accept their life and be happy and asked me to please not feel sorry for their plight. Truly trees are an inspiration for change and an example to us all as how to accept life’s evolution and flourish. I have no doubt that my trees know they are fading, being eaten alive by this bug. I have no doubt that they have accepted their fate, as I still hear them take joy in the day, hear their beautiful voices mixing with the cricket at night, and send me a loving hello when I am near. Last fall I lost my first ash tree, the emotions surrounding it complex, and beautiful. I’d gone out to say good bye a few days before the city was scheduled to come to take my friend away. Have you ever said good bye to a tree? It’s a very beautiful experience, no matter how many tears you may shed. I lay my hand on him, and said hello. I felt his gentle hum of pleasure, and I communicated what was to happen. I thanked my friend for his years of beauty, for his pleasing shade, his delightful song, for helping to watch over us and for being my friend. And in turn his love was gifted back to me, and flowed through me, and expanded my heart. When trees know they are dying they want to share with us their wisdom and knowledge, they want us not to forget, and to learn history. Touching a tree and allowing your heart to be open to them, they in turn can fill your soul with their wisdom, and appreciation for their life, what they have witnessed. You are filled with their energy, and their love, and come away with a feeling of humility and awe. Some weeks later a new tree was placed, Archibald. A silver maple, he is considerably smaller than the other trees on my street, but he does not lack for spirit. His singing is quite loud, poor, and pure. He sings because of the joy of life, of his happiness at having a home and a purpose. Imagine my delight when he sang hello over and over as I walked out to greet him. Always welcome a new tree into your neighborhood. They so want to be a part of the activities there, and while you may not hear them; they clearly come to know our names, our vehicles and our livelihoods. Give thanks for their coming, tell them you find them beautiful, and tend to them faithfully so they will prosper. You, too, can say good bye to a tree, to give thanks for its life, and experience, for the blessings it has brought to the earth. Whether it is a tree on your property, or one you come across in a wood, a simple touch with the open palm of your hand touching their bark will start the process. Open your heart to them, let it fill with love, say hello and see what happens. More often than not they are eager to share and welcome your touch. When the exchange is through, make sure to thank them for their life, and their exchange. Wish them well, for they have done the same to you.~Tracy Paddy Some facts about the emerald ash borer: The emerald ash borer has nearly wiped out the ash tree in the lower peninsula of Michigan, and are very aggressive, having spread through most of the Midwest. Some cities have put traps in ash trees in the hopes to lower the population and save the non-infested ash trees remaining in their area. Moving firewood from one area to another is no longer recommended, as this is one of the ways the ash borer has so successfully spread. The introduction of EAB was truly an environmental disaster. Ashes are (or were!) part of, or dominant in, many forest types. They are easy to propagate and very tolerant of urban conditions Green ash dies more quickly than white ash. Some, but not many, white ash specimens in prime condition survived the first wave of borers. The uncommon blue ash has a better survival rate, but is usually disfigured. Control treatments are more successful with isolated specimens. Commonly the first sign of insect attack is the activity of downy woodpeckers, who seek out the larvae under the bark. Yum! Small d-shaped exit holes are diagnostic, but when these are found on the main trunk at eye level, the tree is probably beyond saving.