I do know I have been disrespected at times. I can wear it. But the kind of shade I would like to talk about is the real thing, the stuff trees gift us with in the hot summer, the commodity a city needs that must be planned and planted for the generations not yet born.
Where I grew up in west Texas, there were very few trees, but we had one. It shaded our front yard, was climbable and became one of my best friends. It also provided my first experience with serious illness and ultimately death. It was an elm and it got Dutch elm's disease, that slowly starved the tree of nutrients and water, causing the leaves to fall and then the branches died. As a child, I noticed it first, and kept climbing up and trying unconvincingly to have the tree heal itself and get well. I was at school when it was cut down and removed, or I might have displayed my future self by "tree-hugging" it to have it remain forever.
It was no wonder when our 6th grade teacher required us to memorize and recite poems aloud that I chose Joyce Kilmer's Trees, which ended with the verse:
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Yes, but anyone can plant one. Or can plant many.
It is interesting to me that the first tree of interest to me was infected with a fungi spread by elm bark beetles and I learned later those beetles had only arrived in North America in 1928 and by 1989 over 75% of the estimated 77 million elms had been lost. My tree was only one of the casualties.
Now pine trees are dealing with the pine bark beetle. Those beetles have been around for generations, but the difference now is climate change. They are thriving and instead of reproducing every 2 years, they are reproducing 5 times a year and their population is exploding and the trees that made the Black Hills black, are now dead. Same with much of the Rocky Mountain air you used to love to smell. Those trees won't be there for you like they were.
So do we give up? No, we plant more trees. We need the gifts they give. We start again. And we start this season. We plant trees for the future. For our future, for our children's. And we plant them to remember these friends and relatives who we have lost during our part of this pandemic.
Trees will provide oxygen that we need to breathe. In a community that deals with flooding remember that trees can help reduce the amount of storm water runoff, help reduce erosion and even can play a role in storing or sequestering carbon. Tree roots filter contaminated rainwater and can and trap it before it moved downstream.
Trees provide that SHADE that becomes the canopy that helps reduce the heat we feel on summer days.
But the additional gift trees give may be the fruits or nuts they can provide for the grower.
Which leads me to bring up a particular type of tree and the vision someone had 40 years ago. Our LEAD Agency office is on the corner of A and Steve Owens. And right there in front of it are our Giving Trees. Much like The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein would remind you that the tree gains happiness from the joy we get from the shade that is given and the crop of pecans produced for the taking.
One of my happiest memories is the time the Boys and Girl Clubbers picked up pecans counting each one and then figuring out the total they had all found that day! But the tree must have also loved our Earth Day events, our Community Garden Parties and Greg Fitzgibbon and later Grant Smith playing music in the shade.We know pecan trees are native to America, and thrive locally AND are great in a pie, but pecans are actually really GOOD for YOU.
According to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, pecans contain more antioxidants than any other tree nut. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. Pecans contain monounsaturated fats which help reduce the risk of heart disease, and are packed with fiber. Pecans increase metabolism, protect the human body from cancer, are rich in magnesium which is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, are a rich source of manganese which is a powerful antioxidant, and the list goes on.
And they can be used as a meat substitute to make hamburgers and a great chili (recipes available on request.)
Vision with me throwing some shade on the next generation. And let's get some pecan trees planted this spring.
To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, and to live as a people, we must have trees. - Theodore Roosevelt
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim