I think that I shall never see…

oaktree…a thing as lovely as a tree, goes the poem.  We’ve been blessed this year by squirrels in our garden.  We live in a suburb of Sheffield with lots of trees which give a great playground for the squirrels, roosting places for birds, sources of sound effects when the wind blows through the leaves and variable satellite TV quality in the spring and summer when the leaves on a particular nearby tree get in the way of the incoming satellite TV signal!

We’re constantly reminded of the importance of trees to the environment – most of us are aware of the phrase ‘the lungs of the world’ when applied to the rain forests of South America and South East Asia.  Astonishingly enough, even though the world has been on a 40 Capstan Full Strength a day cigarette habit for the last 200 years, those lungs have managed to keep pushing enough Oxygen in to the environment and drawing enough CO2 out to keep the planet livable – quite a feat.

treeaerialWhen I was kid my main regret about our garden was the lack of a tree at the end of it.  It was a loooong garden, just right for a long-wire aerial to support my interest in short wave radio.  Unfortunately, there was no tree.  the traditional supports for a long wire aerial for short wave listening, as portrayed in numerous books, was a house at one end – check! – and a tree at the other.   Sadly, I had no tree, my parents objected to my plan of acquiring a telegraph pole and planting it at the end of the garden, and so my aerial stopped where the last washing line support pole was.   Ah well….

I love ’em.  One of my pleasures in the summer is to find a tree and sit under it – not too difficult an undertaking in Sheffield as we have lots of parks and also lots of trees scattered around the city centre.  When I was researching something the other day I came across a few nice quotes about trees, so thought – why not share them.  And here they are, and what they mean to me.

“The best friend on Earth of man is the tree. When we use the tree respectfully and economically,
we have one of the greatest resources of the Earth.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

A reminder that the ersources of this planet, though vast, are not large enough unless we do our bit in conserving them and replacing what we use.  And that trees are our our planetary lungs.  I like breathing – if you do too then start paying attention to the News when they report on yet another deforestation carried out in teh name of global capitalism.

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” – Traditional Greek Proverb

I love this.  It’s long termism – something wonderful to witness in a society, especially today when our leaders’ view of the long term is the day of the next General Election.  There are several similar ideas to this in different cultures.  The story goes that when a famous French official told his gardener to plant a tree, the gardener turned around and told his master that the tree wouldn’t reach maturity for 100 years.  The Lord of the Manor suggested that there was no time to waste and suggested that his gardener planted the tree immediately!  A Chinese proverb says ‘The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.’  We’re so used to instant gratification – perhaps we should all plant a tree to learn what it is like to be patient.  Short termism will kill us all yet.

 “People who will not sustain trees will soon live in a world which cannot sustain people. “ – Bryce Nelson

 Depressingly true.  As I mentioned above, we need trees to act as the lungs of the world, and to be honest, as we don’t seem able to curtail our desire to consume, we had better keep these lungs healthy.   I have no doubt that somewhere in the world there are very wealthy people planning biodomes in to which they and their families and minions will be able to retreat when the planet can no longer easily sustain life.   I have a sneaking suspicion that these people are also the ones who have pillaged the planet dry in the last 100 years.  If the day ever comes when these guys do run in to their bolt holes, might I suggest that we concrete the doors shut and paint the windows black?

Enjoy the trees.  Preserve them – maybe think about artificial trees this Christmas?  When buying wooden items, use wood from sustainable sources.  Recycle your paper. Let’s keep breathing!

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