Last week when I visited my mother, at night as she lay snuggled under the quilt on her bed I read aloud to her from chapters in Robert Fulghum’s ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN. Mom had been a kindergarten teacher at one time, and before she became lost in dementia, she really enjoyed this book.
But that evening I flipped the book open to the wrong chapter about villagers in the Solomon Islands who had a unique way of taking down a tree. They didn’t chop it down with axes; the entire village yelled at the tree every day for a month, and the tree fell over. When I read this aloud, Mom frowned. With her eyes still closed she scrunched up her face and adamantly shook her head NO!.
After my parents built our house on a large empty lot in 1953, my mother planted 16 varieties of trees (27 trees, total) and did all the landscaping herself. She has always loved trees, and by example she taught me to love them, too.
As an apology for reading about the villagers killing trees by yelling at them—even though it was meant as a lesson for children to always using kind, gentle words—and also in tribute to my mother, I dedicate this post to all of us who love trees. And just for the record, to make up for my mistake that night, I read aloud to Mom for another hour, but only from the chapters that made her smile.
As Andrea Koehle Jones wrote in THE WISH TREES, “I’m planting a tree to teach me to gather strength from my deepest roots.”
And as a concluding reminder of the long-term importance of trees, Jim Robbins, author of THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES, wrote this: “Planting trees may be the single most important ecotechnology that we have to put the broken pieces of our planet back together.”