more than just shade

During our day-to-day life, we don’t spend too much time appreciating trees. In the fall, when they turn Technicolor, we ooh and ahh. In the spring, when the first signs of green herald spring, we breathe a sigh of relief. In the summer, we seek out their shade on hot days. But otherwise, trees are just there in the background.

That’s why being a part of the Arbor Day Association’s Tree City USA program is so nice. It’s like Mother’s Day–you love your mom all year, but it’s nice to have a special day that reminds you to say thanks.Arbor_Day12a

Mt. Lebanon will host this year’s Arbor Day/Tree City Celebration at 2:30 p.m., Friday, April 26, at Lincoln Elementary School. The public is invited to attend. Every year, a different school in our community is selected to host the event in which trees are celebrated. In the days leading up to the event, the children color posters about trees and learn about their benefits. The activities culminate with an afternoon event in which the children read essays and poems, sing songs, play music, raise a special Tree City flag on the school’s flagpole and then plant a tree on the school grounds. This year it will be a red leaf maple.

Mt. Lebanon became a Tree City six years ago. The Arbor Day website says, “Communities achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four standards—having a sound urban forestry management, maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.” There are currently more than 3,400 Tree City USA communities and more than 135 million people live in a Tree City.

2012’s Tree City/Arbor Day ceremony at Washington Elementary

This is the second year I’ve helped organize this event. My favorite part is looking at the posters the children create—they can be fun, silly, extremely artistic, poignant and earnest. Some of those posters will be on display at stores along Beverly Road leading up to the event and others will be posted on our website. Please check them out. My second favorite thing is seeing the children’s excitement about planting the tree. The shovels used are at times bigger than the child wielding it, by they take the responsibility of being one of the tree “planters” much too seriously to let that stop them.

Coincidently, I just came across the chapter on gardening while reading Ellen Sandbeck’s book “Green Housekeeping.” In the chapter, Sandbeck extols the virtues of trees saying, “Large trees actually change the climate in their immediate vicinity, making the air cooler and moister and reducing the ‘heat island’ effect caused by the sun beating down on buildings and pavement…. Everything we humans do, from eating and breathing to burning fuel to using aerosol cans, tends to dirty the air, raise the temperature, and use up oxygen… One of the best ways to reduce global warming is to plant more trees and to do one’s best to keep them healthy.”

I’m proud to be a small part in giving our children an appreciation of trees that will, I hope, last a lifetime.



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