A poem as lovely as a tree…

Guest blogger, Kimberly Frost

My surname mandated a mastered reading of the beloved Robert Frost poem A Tree at My Window. The poet depicts an adoration for the presence of this life force in vicinity to where he lay his head at night, and not even a curtain should come between them.

Joyce Kilmer wrote “I think that I shall never see. A poem lovely as a tree.” When I recently read about 900 some odd trees being eviscerated in a PA town, I took pause. I read and reread the article and have yet to understand the justification of such a large-scale demolition, or the acceptance that new plantings were a viable substitute. Public safety is a concern and proper tree maintenance is paramount. The ash trees have nearly been obliterated by a bug, and the fungus that has claimed so many oak trees was, and still is, devastating. The reduction of forests plagues communities and results in a global issue as carbon emissions and flooding increase. I recently posted on LinkedIn that I don’t feel the removal of old growth trees should ever be called “development”. I don’t believe that progress can consider itself positive unless it aligns with the existing eco system. The massive renovation of a NYC east side park laid claim to trees that were as old as the city itself. There is not a single person who experienced that park that would concede to the removal of those trees. The decision was short sighted and selfish, benefiting only those who were compensated from the plan. I cannot write a poem, but I can highlight a great line, “There comes a time in your life where you will choose what is hard or what is easy.” – Professor Dumbledore. The emphasis for that park’s renovation was storm water and elevation. What better accomplice to assist than massive old trees that could have continued to grow higher and higher had their roots been left intact?  If the extensive root system and shadows cast do not align with the cookie cutter park prototype, then it should be rewritten.

The parks and open spaces of Pennsylvania serve as a refuge and a return to nature. The intermingling of sterile manufactured playgrounds was replaced with the wandering into the wilderness. It was needed and overdue. As generations drift further and further away from understanding and experiencing the outdoors the baseline understanding of horticulture, botany and forestry ceases to exist. The visceral experience of the wind through leaves in a quiet forest and the changing tapestry of the landscape encourages stewardship and advocacy for the beacons that are trees. The significance of trees needs to be comprehended for generations to come and trees must be a priority in city planning and approved development in Pennsylvania.

More and more monetization of credits to offset carbon emissions will entice parcel owners to lease their tree growth to companies needing to offset their own carbon score. Hopefully this will secure trees existence by creating a new value for them in the corporate community. The company I work for has a business model built around the recycling process of wood waste, but I never want to prosper at the cost of tearing down a healthy tree, let alone a cluster or forest.

There are children that my son goes to school with that have never climbed a tree. They either have no trees or open spaces nearby or the trees in their neighborhood were quaffed with mulch volcanoes under them. The trees that offered climbing branches lured a child close enough, only to be scolded by a nearby adult telling them to “Get down. It’s not safe.” The safety of the air and water void of the adequate number of trees contributing homes to pollinators, oxygen and filtration should be a greater concern. Let them climb. Let them fall. Let them climb again.

Planting a tree can mark a milestone and chart a lifetime. I couldn’t find any poems specifically about that, but I can share resources that may inspire advocacy:

  • The children’s book A Carpenter’s Gift shares the true story of how a poor family’s planted tree eventually lit up Rockefeller Center.
  • The glorious animated film “The Man Who Planted Trees” is based on the story of the work of one individual and how many lives his plantings touched and improved.
  • Arbor Day still exists! Visit https://www.arborday.org to find out how you can help with their goal of planting 500 million trees by 2027.

While my romance about trees may not be inspiring, science continues to render results. Scientists are studying how, not if, trees communicate through mycelium. Trees recognize their relatives, favoring them with carbon exchange. I think of the tree huggers of the 60’s and 70’s who were met with scoffs and eye rolls. They were ahead of their time.

So, I encourage we all go climb a tree, hug a tree, plant a tree, or sit under one and write a poem!