Spontaneously a week ago Sunday, our friends Andy and Aly invited us to drive down and to see migrating birds at a reservoir near Lancaster. Unfortunately, we were off on our timing and most of the birds had already flown away. We didn’t give up and decided that we needed a better view. There was a tree on the boundary of where we were allowed to walk and we decided to climb the tree for the view. It has been so long since I have climbed a tree but found that I still I really enjoyed being in a tree. It wasn’t the easiest to climb but once up there it was so nice to just relax and enjoy the view. And we were rewarded with seeing a couple hundred beautiful Tundra Swans. The four of us must have spent a good half hour up there until we decided we were a bit cold, and fresh brownies from Aly’s mom were calling to us. Trees have been on my mind lately but this just made me think that much more about them.
Recently, I have realized that my affection for trees has been secretly growing in my heart for years. But my love of trees has been present since early childhood. Growing up I used to climb trees in both the front and back yards at my grandparents’ house with my cousin Matt. Matt and I would visit our Grandparents every summer and we probably climbed those trees every day during our visits. It holds a special place in my memory. I also remember when I was no more than 8 years old I climbed to the top of a pine tree (40ft or more), until my mom urgently asked me to come down. I was trying to touch the very top. I don’t remember if I got there but I do remember the trunk became very slender and moved a lot in the wind. Mom obviously thought I was going to fall and hurt myself. When I was 11 or so, I did fall out of a tree onto another one and ended up with stitches in my arm. I started planting trees when I was in high school. I planted 3 trees on the boundary of our yard in Athens, PA. Two of them survive to this day and are taller than our 2-story house. More recently my wife and I planted one as part of our wedding ceremony. Trees symbolize so many different things in life.
They seem to be a symbol of some of the difficulties the city has had in recent years. Recently, I have been heartbroken as I look around the city of Harrisburg. The trees in the city have been neglected for the most part. It is completely hit-and-miss if there are trees on any given street but there are pockets of trees here and there. The ones that are left are sometimes cut down, like two strong and beautiful ones on 18th street. I don’t know why they were cut down but I hope they have a good reason but I fear they didn’t. The ones that have died or fallen down are rarely replaced. If they are replaced they aren’t given the attention they need and don’t seem to be varieties that get very big.
Those that are left growing usually are pretty scarred. There is something I just can’t figure out…I understand pruning trees especially the dead limbs. I don’t get why trees have to be gutted for the sake of power lines. There is no way that can be healthy for the trees. Go down Sycamore Street sometime from Cameron to Paxton Street and you will clearly see what I am talking about. One side the trees are tall and strong, on the other side they are butchered for the power lines. The contrast is so clear especially when there aren’t any leaves. At least they have trees though. I just wish they would do something different with the power lines. I have to assume for many of the power lines that the trees were there first. They should have some rights or something.
There are so many good things that come with trees and it seems that the city as a whole is starting to realize it. Community Action Commission is teaching homeowners about planting trees and caring for them. Most developers are including trees in their landscaping plans as well. Trees cool our homes in summer and break the wind in the winter. They provide refuge and food for many birds and animals. They give us oxygen and leaves for the fields. I love all the different fruits they produce. Trees provide building materials and fuel for bonfires. I think people are happier when they have trees around. Who doesn’t love having the shade of trees in the middle of summer when it is unbearably hot? I am a runner and if you ever go running in the city during the summer you can clearly feel the temperature difference between streets with trees and those without trees. Trees have so much to offer, so let’s plant some trees in Harrisburg. They can be a symbol of the strength of the city and how much it is growing. Like trees, Harrisburg has a lot to offer to those around it.
It seems obvious now, but I am a lover of trees. I will also admit that I am now a certified tree hugger.
Joshua J D Moritz