Studying and fighting for champion trees

I spent last week in a place I love. I love running there like no other place, because running there means I get to enjoy shaded trails under towering trees, and stop to drink in sweeping vistas of mountain ranges covered in hardwoods and pines. I can run longer and breathe easier in this place of magnificent trees. (Well, maybe not physically breathe easier because of the elevation, but there’s an emotional breath that comes more easily to me when I’m there.)

So when I imagine a world without trees, my heart catches, and I think of this beloved mountain place. I cannot let myself imagine it without its crown of trees. You might wonder why I would even try to imagine a world without trees. Well, because a book I recently read, The Man Who Planted Trees by Jim Robbins, asked me to do just that. Continue reading

On cutting down trees

This is one of those weeks where you know winter has set in for real. I spent last night wrapping plastic around my camellias – including the one I featured in last week’s post, now not looking so pretty with browning petals – and several other tender plants that I didn’t want harmed by the deep freeze.

I ventured outside this morning for an obligatory dog walk but waited to go back out for a run until the temperature was closer to the freezing mark. I was able to take off my gloves partway through the run, but the wind still had a bitter chill to it.

Yep. It’s winter. Best just to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book.

I’ve just started a book called American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation by Eric Rutkow. Re-started might be more correct. I tried reading this book a few months ago but set it aside after bursting into tears during the introduction, where Rutkow describes the killing of the oldest tree ever found (likely more than 5,000 years old), a bristlecone pine tree that a graduate student cut down so he could see how old it was. You read that right. He cut down the tree to count its rings. To his credit, he realized he had gone too far and became a conservationist as a result.

Knowing what to expect, I made it though the introduction a second time without any tears. But reading again about this tree called Prometheus (yes, some trees have names), got me to thinking about our relationship with trees. Continue reading