I Like Trees

I like trees. I like looking at them. When I was younger, I wanted to live inside a tree like the kid in the book “My Side Of The Mountain”. Sometimes I still do.

One of my first poems, written when I was in third grade, was about a tree I used to climb in the backyard. By “climb”, I mean that I went up maybe one branch. The poem was a longish ode, but I only remember the first two lines.

My tree and me
Are as happy as can be

Nowadays, I talk to my baby Colorado Blue Spruce tree when I’m outside in his part of the yard. My baby blue spruce is named Bob.

Don’t judge me.

When I walk, I like to look at the trees around me. I wonder how fast they grow, and how old they are. So I looked it up on the internet.

Trees, like people, grow at varying rates. How fast they grow depends on their environment and the food they have to eat. Again, much like people. On average, a fast growing tree like a American Elm or a Silver Maple, can grow 15 feet in 10 years (or 1.5 feet per year). A moderately fast growing tree like a red maple or a tulip tree grows 8-15 feet in 10 years. A slow growing tree like a Sweetgum or European Ash grows less than 8 feet in 10 years. Depending on the species, trees can live to be hundreds or even thousands of years old.

When I walk, I pass a group of Eastern White Pine trees that are at least 60 feet tall. They are a fast growing tree, but even so they are probably at least 50 years old. If all goes well, they should live to be over 200. Bob, my baby Colorado Blue Spruce, is about 4 feet tall. He’s a moderately fast growing tree and seems to be averaging more than a foot a year. When he’s an adult, he’ll be 40-80 feet tall and he’ll outlive me by centuries unless the development where I live cuts him down.

And that’s the problem with liking trees. You have to watch them get cut down. Sometimes an old or a sick tree, or a tree in a dangerous position needs to be cut down. I had to have one cut down because it was a shallow-rooted tree and it was leaning towards my house. But sometimes I see them get cut down and it just breaks my heart. The trees in the picture at the beginning of this post are no longer there. They were oak trees, and at least 90 feet tall – probably more like 100. Oaks grow 8-15 feet in 10 years, so those trees were probably over 100 years old. They were probably much older than that. The development where I live had them cut down because the people buying the house near the trees asked them to.. It took the tree men a day to remove them. I came home from work, and they were gone. Just gone. Hundreds of years wiped out in a fingersnap. Even if somebody plants new baby oak trees in the same spot, I will never see them be 90 feet tall.

So the next time you go outside, I invite you to do what I do – look around at the trees and think about how old they are, and how they grow. If you are of a reflective nature, think about how those trees you’re looking at have the potential of outliving you by hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Trees. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.




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