A while ago I discovered a British organization, The Tree Council, that is devoted to the love of trees, with the intention of that love leading to actions working to protect trees. And these are not trees in the abstract but actual individual beloved trees in neighborhoods and local walking areas.
One of their programs encourages followers to “visit remarkable trees.” Remarkable being in the eye of the beholder:
“Every tree is beautiful – but sometimes a particular tree captures our attention. Perhaps it’s the way it sits in the landscape; perhaps it is the tallest or most advanced in years of that species you have seen. Perhaps it simply gladdens your morning walk. If you have a favourite local tree, list it on our map of remarkable trees so others can seek it out and enjoy it.”
The Council also promotes the possibility of becoming a tree warden to help care for local trees, as well as outings to find and marvel at trees nearby and throughout the country. What an amazing tour that would make for a visitor (when we are allowed to travel again.) I remember the awe I felt standing under a great spreading tree on the grounds of a grand estate that had hosted the first Queen Elizabeth in her day. Deer grazed off at a distance. The air was still; time was at a standstill, just for a moment. The tree seemed to transcend all human effort; it was witness to great events of dynasty and history—and the small daily life of twittering birds and the hum of insects. Hard to say which mattered more. Our own neighborhood trees, whether great and noble, or just planted yesterday, can give us moments of insight and appreciation of time and its passage in their own ways. Trees, of course, give us so much more.
What would it take to develop such a program of tree wardens here? The City of Olympia has an Urban Forestry department, as do most cities, but this would be a way volunteers could perhaps play a role in caring for trees and acting as ambassadors for trees. We all have our favorites! And we feel terrible loss when we lose one that we feel closely connected to but have no role in its well-being or ultimate fate. I just begin here with musing but this sort of idea might be something that catches fire when we come back together to rebuild our society.
Meanwhile, get to know the trees in your neighborhood. They are remarkable! They sustain us in these difficult times.