for release Friday October 29, 2004
by Melodie Davis
A Thing as Lovely as a Tree
A truckload of brand new 2 x 4’s passed me on the highway. In my imagination, I whiffed the scent of fresh lumber. The sight of the 2 x 4’s sent my mind on a journey back to the trees they came from. Did God ever make a more wonderful invention or creation than the humble tree?
The old poem by Joyce Kilmer (1886-1916), which many of us memorized in grade school because it was so easy, put it this way: “I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. … Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”
Think of what trees give us: wood for houses; firewood; paper; pencils; boxes; board games; candy wrappers; furniture; toothpicks; insulation; musical instruments; branches used in home decorating; flooring; money; packaging; laminated wood; shade; landscaping; homes for birds, squirrels and other creatures; not to mention being a critical part of the photosynthesis process. In fact, nearly 100 percent of a harvested tree is used for some purpose. Resins, which are contained in wood, are used in such things as fuel and tannic acid for curing leather.
Then consider the beauty of trees themselves, in all their moods, seasons and dresses. Right now of course is a time when most people pay attention to trees, and their colorful changes daily. As I write this (still September) I see leaves directly outside my office window that are different shades of green, yellow, brown, orange, red, and every mix in between. But think also of spring, when a mountainside shows 16 shades or more of green, from palest mint to rich, dark, jungle green.
The crayon makers come up with color names that help our minds to conjure the beautiful variations seen in the coat of a tree, like flashing through digital photos on a camera: dandelion, lemon yellow, green blue, orange yellow, maize, asparagus, granny smith apple, tropical rain forest, almond, Caribbean green, fern, mountain meadow, burnt orange, sea green. Did your mind “see” the colors as you read them? (Most of this information I found on the web: see also fun sites about the General Sherman tree, the largest living thing on earth http://library.thinkquest.org/J002415/Famous_Trees/General_Sherman/general_sherman.html, and Methuselah, the bristlecone pine tree in California that is the oldest living thing in the world at over 4,600 years of age and still growing—though you can’t find any pictures of it because they hide its identity to protect against vandalism and soil erosion from foot traffic. http://www.nationaltreetrust.org/?cid=31000&displayArticleID=125 )
Then there are products from trees, such as maple syrup, rubber, apples, pears, peaches—the whole family of fruits. And glorious meaty great tasting and good-for-you nuts! There are trees which produce spectacular and unique flowers or seed pods—the magnolia, the redbud, dogwood, and mimosa, to name a few of my favorites.
In the tree, we see evidence of God’s creativity, but also the creativity of humans as we tap trees for more and more products. In this case, the nut didn’t “fall far from the tree”: God said humans were created in God’s image, so that means we’re at our best when we’re being creative, too.
That means we must be creative when it comes to conserving, replanting, refurbishing the earth in order to make sure trees are around for our great-great-grandchildren.
When I’ve traveled out west, or even through my own area, many times the eye cannot see anything other than trees for miles and miles on end. One is tempted to think, oh, what is there to worry about running out of trees? While it is true there are many, many acres still producing bountiful trees, the concern is over how many trees are needed to sustain life, habitats and photosynthesis.
This reminds me of Odgen Nash’s lines, the sometimes humorous poet who wrote a take-off on Kilmer’s poem: “I think that I shall never see a billboard as lovely as a tree. Perhaps unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.”
Get out in nature today if you can: walk a forest trail, drive in the mountains or countryside, walk to a nearby park. Even in cities, certain older parts often have residential areas that are nicely filled with trees. And thank God along with the squirrels and birds you’ll surely find there, for the lovely, stately, long living tree. You think nature can’t thank God? Yet another poet, Isaiah, said, “The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isa. 55:12).
Write to me at: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 788 words; end material = 105 words
We would appreciate it if you would include the "Globe Syndicate" bug at the end of the column.
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