Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nurture a Tree Today

I can't do everything but I know I can do something. So I'm on a mission to nurture the trees surrounding our house. I began with the enormous Australian Pine outside the writing room window. For years it was surrounded by a tangle of Crown of Thorns, full of debris because the thorny plants were impossible to take care of. We cleared away the debris and the thorny bushes in one afternoon. We planted pink Periwinkles, pink and yellow Hibiscuses, Snapdragons, Begonias and two little palms. I can see this new garden as I write, all green and blooming, loving the April rain, and am uplifted and inspired by the sight of it. My mother planted the pine tree when I was a baby and today it is enormous, towering into the sky. It has endured every hurricane, survived drought, flood, and neglect. I am sure I have endured the same because of her protection and good company. I am sure she is glad to be encircled in flowers. In the weeks that followed we turned our attention to the tree outside the bedroom window, whose name I must find out, cutting away thirty years worth of Creeping Charlie vines to reveal a beautiful and scarred tree that now seemed much taller, all her graceful beauty fully revealed. And we uncovered a small but strong Pigeon Plum tree rooted in roots. I plan to put down fresh soil around them both, and wonder what it will be like to have pigeon plums in the yard next summer. Then we looked to saving the ailing Cassia tree, growing in the yard next door. My mother planted that tree when my parents moved into this neighbourhood more than sixty years ago. Again, decades of those vines were choking the life out of it. With them cleared away she is beginning to recover now, she will make some flowers this summer but next year she will have restored herself to her former glory. Today as I write, I look at the old grandmother Saffron tree which my parents told me was a wild tree they were careful not to cut down when they began to build. Now that I look I can see that it is full of debris, branches that were broken in the last hurricane. How could I have not seen this before? I can hardly wait for next weekend when we will clear them out and the beauty of the old Saffron is revealed again. Then I'll move on to the lovely old Poinciana across the street in another neighbour's front yard. I believe Mum and friends planted that one too. Her roots are exposed, we'll give her some fill and soil as soon as we can. She so Saving the trees is serious business. I see it as an act taken to save my life and the lives of the people I love. It is an act of restoring our beloved old neighbourhood to its former beauty, before so many grand old trees were cut down. I am certain too that when we nurture trees we are fighting crime, violence, poverty and despair. Doing this work makes me think of one of my heroines, Nobel Laureate Professor Wangari Maathaii who said: "Women have become aware that planting trees or fighting to save forests from being chopped down is part of a larger mission to create a society that respects democracy, decency, adherence to the rule of law, human rights and the rights of women." She knew what she was talking about. She organized thousands of poor women to plant more than forty million trees across Kenya. Those women are not poor or hungry anymore and the Earth is a greener, more beautiful place for us all. I know that today I am happier and more hopeful restoring the trees I can see from my window, I feel sure I am doing what I can to make this town and the world a better place for my children. Please join me and nurture a tree today.

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