Even in my morning rush, I noticed something was missing as in “no longer, there.” The landscape was more barren, stark.
Trains rattle, roll and slam into the station every three minutes on a rush hour schedule. Buses emit noxious fumes of black exhaust. Descending jumbo jets screech overhead and then roar as the engines are reversed. Hundreds of cars pull in and out of the adjacent parking lot, adding their load of carbon dioxide to the sooty air.
I paused again, feeling the emptiness. Then it hit me.
The trees were gone — ten of them. Ugly stumps stood in their place.
The pictures above speak a thousand words and point a thousand fingers in accusation. Why would anyone do this, and here, of all places?
You can tell the age of a tree by counting the number of concentric circles or annual rings. By the looks of it, this tree was past middle-aged and healthy. Not only did it soften the bleak landscape, but it absorbed jet and car fumes and buffered the sound waves produced in this transportation hub.
Anyone who has witnessed foliage in New England will tell you there is little to rival its beauty. Fire and earth unite and rise to the treetops. Mountains are aflame in red and orange hues with flashes of vibrant yellow. Ponds and lakes reflect and magnify this beauty.
However, a tree’s beauty is not limited to the Fall.
In the Summer, trees provide shade, strong support to lean against with a book, and with the help of the wind, hush us to sleep with their ethereal lullaby.
In the Winter, snow-covered trees create a winter wonderland landscape in stark contrast to the cold.
In the Spring, we revel as the first buds bloom, surrounding us with their sweet fragrance, and bird song fills the air, a sign that Winter is over for the next few months.
Trees are an ecosystem and a symbol of spirituality, signifying strength, and resilience. They are homes to birds and squirrels and provide exercise and escapes for urban cats. Their claw-like roots dig towards the center of the earth while branches rise toward the heavens.
“Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.” ~ Joyce Kilmer
Environmentally, trees reduce and trap pollen and smoke and can reduce dust by as much as 75 percent. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, gasses such as sulfur and carbon monoxide, and can supply oxygen for one day for four people.
And how much jet fuel had these trees they faithfully absorbed over the years?
Strategically placed, trees cut air conditioning needs by 50 percent, diminishing energy demand. They reduce flooding, wind speed, and water run-off, thus reducing soil erosion. They block noise, again, hello planes, and reduce glare.
Trees do all these things, yet “we fell them,” ignorant men that we are to develop, let in more sun, or clear the view.
Except, in this case, the trees were the view. What’s left is ugly.
Aside from all the above, trees have a social benefit. They improve the mood of communities and increase social interactions. They are pleasing to the eye and make cities more attractive.
And yet there is more. Trees may reduce crime and violence.
Trees are crime fighters.
Research supports this statement.
In the peer-reviewed journal Environment and Behavior (Sage Journals), U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest and Southern Research Station researchers published a study hypothesizing that larger trees may reduce property and violent crimes.
Still, as Gibran so aptly observed, “we fell them down.”
I am beginning to feel that some men are in league with Lord Sauron, the main bad guy in Lord of the Rings, intentionally destroying a creation of beauty that benefits all life.
Deforestation. Globe warming. Their enemies? Trees. Trees’ enemies? Humans.
It’s incredible that people casually destroy what may have grown in the earth for hundreds of years, and come Christmas, they pay a hefty price to erect a live one in their homes.
But we are not always logical, or wise, creatures.
There is no happy ending here. Ten trees are gone and nothing will replace them. Sadly, they won’t be the last trees removed for no good reason. The landscape is uglier, and the air now contains more pollutants.
Still, you can make a difference by caring for trees in your community.
There are several programs available:
Tree City USA program provides a framework for communities to care for and plant public trees.
Community Tree Recovery assists communities in the wake of natural disasters, helping them to reestablish trees.
Alliance for Community Trees is a group of community-based, non-profit organizations dedicated to planting and tree care. Municipalities, Urban Forest Councils, and even individuals can join.
8 Billion Trees, founded in November 2018, the mission is simple: to plant trees. It’s easy.
Subscribe for $20.00 a month, and 8 Billion Trees will plant ten trees per month on your behalf. They plant ten trees every month for every member. Their goal: to plant eight billion trees!
You can read more about this organization on their About Us page.
Never underestimate your power to make a change. Together, we can rebuild the Earth one tree at a time. Every individual makes a difference. It’s up to us to stop the damage and turn back the hands of time, so our beautiful planet remains green and alive.
Trees give us so much, so the next time you see one, hug it.
Trees need love, too!