The Worth Of Trees

“Trees, for example, carry the memory of rainfall. In their rings we read ancient weather—storms, sunlight, and temperatures, the growing seasons of centuries. A forest shares a history, which each tree remembers even after it has been felled.”
Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

When I was a child my Grandmothers house was shaded year round by these giant Norway Spruce, Maples, and Walnuts our Grandfather planted. They encircled the house like these silent sentinels, with their draping branches, and have over time lent some of their strength to everything underneath them.

I even have a picture of me at six, my long braid down my back, reaching up towards a black squirrel that somehow I have lured down one of the Spruces that lined the front terrace like columns from some Roman monument. Although, I imagine these particular squirrels were the children of those Mom had handfed, after their own Mother had been killed on the road.

So here in the Village, those trees still provide that strength. They give weight and a particular permanency to neigbhourhoods.

When Irish and I go out for our walks, invariably, there is a tree nearby. Frankly, I loathe to live where there are no trees that line the sidewalks with shade in the summer. Have wilted in places without their graceful presence overhead, without the rustling of their leaves in the Autumn light, as the colours of fall line the pathways of the city streets. They change the air in neigbhourhoods, change attitudes, as they change the light around us. Cleansing, and holding within their trunks the weather of the ages.

What worth is that? Tree rings can be used to date structures, as their rings can be compared against this giant database; called Dendrochronology, or Dendro Dating. These dates can then illuminate such things as weather patterns and major droughts, which in turn can give researchers more context for understandings certain times, or events at play that may have significance to more completely understanding a place.

Now, of course, there is that Black Walnut that stands guard right out my door, and I have had many comments from carpenters on the value, of its grain. Certainly,  without its presence, I and my guests in Fall would not be clobbered on the head with Walnuts and Squirrel spit, and more sunshine would fall upon this little in-between space.

If I wanted sunshine, thankfully, I doubt my landlord would oblige.

It’s worth to me is that shade it freely gives, as well as the toxins it emits into the soil, which in turn deters that which I do not want to grow, encouraging the things that love to rest their roots in such a place; much like myself.

From here, up here in this Village looking through those trees, down upon this city at the forks of a river, with pathways that crisscross and line it’s banks, with dog walkers and cyclists, and families out for an evening stroll together, perhaps instead their true worth is in the eye of the beholder.

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