Today’s post is going to be on an unusual topic for this blog; trees. I love trees. I’ll speak for Ms. J as well and say that she loves trees too. Ms. J and I often go hiking and it’s been such a great experience being able to bring Mr. C along as well. Seeing him run around in the forest, finding a new stream, or pond, interesting sticks and rocks, listening for frogs and crickets, makes me remember what it was like to discover new things when I was young.
I grew up in Boston, nowhere near a forest or any hiking trails, but many of the streets were lined with very old and large trees. The trees were so large that they often formed a canopy over the streets, linking together at the top over the center of the street. Those trees provided shade and habitat for birds and other animals. It was a pleasant experience to walk down the streets in my neighborhood, even if only to go to the corner store. There was always the sound of birds on the street. Unfortunately, many of those trees were Elms and Chestnuts and they were all killed by Dutch Elm Disease or Chestnut blight. Entire areas that were once shaded were seemingly overnight bare of any trees. They all died and were removed so quickly that it seemed as if it happened overnight.
I miss those trees, and I still remember them when I sometimes visit old neighborhoods I knew from my youth. So it was nice to come across a blog post on Chestnut trees on the Breathe of Green Air blog. You should go and check out that post and see some magnificent trees in the Roslin valley of Scotland.
We were hiking this past weekend when I was surprised to find a sad little Chestnut tree. Did you check out those trees in Scotland yet ?
Ok, now check out an American Chestnut. Here it is, it’s the spindly stick in the middle of the photo below. It’s the main trunk of the tree, and it’s dead.
What happens to American Chestnuts is that after a few years of growth, the blight will kill the main trunk. The roots will still live though and it will send out a number of shoots to try to regenerate itself. Here are the little struggling shoots of this Chestnut, below:
No, I’m no expert on trees and would only have ben able to identify this since there was a little sign next to the tree. If it was not hit with the blight, this tree would have been a commanding presence in the forest, but instead it’s barely noticeable at all.
So I’m writing this somewhat rambling post in the hope the people here in the US will appreciate what we do have left and will not be afraid to bring their kids out into the forests and hiking trails around them. Often when we go hiking or camping, we are either the only people around, or al least the only people with a child. I’ve read that a lot of people in the US are of two minds regarding the outdoors, they think of it as some kind of reverent area that can not be touched and visited, or as a place that might inspire some fear, as a source of disease carrying mosquitos or hungry bears. It’s upsetting to think that a new generation of kids is not having much interaction with nature and will grow up to consider even small areas of forest as either a nuisance to be removed for new housing tracts, or as a place to avoid for fear of getting dirty.
There is a second reason that I’m writing this post and that’s in response to my current town, Nashua, New Hampshire, cutting down all of the trees on Main Street. In order to make it easier to replace the old brick sidewalks with new concrete sidewalks, every tree on the main commercial street in town is being cut down. It seems as though the large old tree roots heave up the brick sidewalks, making it difficult to repair the sidewalk or to remove snow. It was sad to loose those old Chestnuts and Elms in Boston to disease, but it’s especially irritating to loose the trees in Nashua simply for convenience.
So instead of growing up in a town with plenty of shade trees lining the streets, Mr. C is going to grow up in a town with no full grown shade trees in town. I doubt he will have fond memories of easy snow removal when he grows up.