“Trees, trees and more trees” was Golden Gate Park Supervisor John McLaren’s motto when he helped design the shaded, pleasant, walkable, and popular Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon. Trees, we know, besides making our neighborhoods cooler and more pleasant, are part of the solution to the climate crisis.
Thinking about trees for 30 July
Alfred Joyce Kilmer, who was killed by a sniper’s bullet 103 years ago on 30 July 1918 at the Second Battle of the Marne, penned in his poem “Trees” that “only God can make a tree.”
God makes trees, but plant them we can, and plant them we must (while also not cutting them down).
Trees suck carbon out of the air, cool our cities, provide habitat, make the world more livable, and improve our mental attitudes. As the climate assaults us with greater intensity each year, we realize that cutting trees down is part of the problem, and that planting them is part of the solution.
Some recent tree-related articles:
2021-07-03 Catrin Einhorn, “What Technology Could Reduce Heat Deaths? Trees.” New York Times, updated 3 July 2021, Web,
Snippet summary: As this article states, we need to think of (and fund for and plan for) trees as city infrastructure rather than just as amenities. The article says that “in addition to reducing heat, trees filter out air pollution, suck up storm water, store carbon, nurture wildlife and even improve people’s mental and physical health.” Einhorn quotes Brian Stone Jr., a professor of environmental planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who says, “Trees are, quite simply, the most effective strategy, technology, we have to guard against heat in cities.”
2021-06-31 Ian Leahy and Yarna Serkez, “Since When Have Trees Existed Only for Rich Americans?,” New York Times, 30 June 2021, Web,
Snippet summary: In American cities, trees shade the neighborhoods of the affluent whereas concrete heats the neighborhoods of the poor.
20-06-05 Lynda V. Mapes, “Death of the giants: Forests getting shorter, younger, in Northwest and elsewhere,” Seattle Times, 5 Jun 2021,
https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/death-of-the-giants-forests-getting-shorter-younger-in-northwest-and-elsewhere/ (accessed 26 Jul 2021).
Snippet summary: Climate change and logging are disproportionately removing big trees, making forests shorter and younger, as Lynda Mapes relates in her review of a 29 May 2020 article that was published in the peer-reviewed journal Science.
Some tree-related poems and songs:
I think that I shall never see
a poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the Earth’s sweet flowering breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray.
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
— Joyce Kilmer
Mario Lanza sings “Trees.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTtfX7pVBiM (accessed 13 June 2021)
Paul Robeson sings “Trees.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEiZWUL1SUY (accessed 13 June 2021)
Also, see the poem “A Forest Hymn” by William Cullen Bryant (accessible at https://www.bartleby.com/102/18.html and many other sites)
Also see the poem “The Forest for the Trees” by Rena Priest (Washington State Poet Laureate), posted 6 Aug. 2021 to the humanities Washington blog at https://www.humanities.org/blog/the-forest-for-the-trees/