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Trees and children

September 18, 2011
By DON WILLIAMS , For The Leader Herald

One of my trees is hurting; a large section, about half of the tree, came crashing down during Tropical?Storm?Irene. Fortunately, it settled to the ground along the edge of the driveway without destroying anything in its path. With two sons and three chainsaws, we turned the giant hard maple tree into firewood. It had lived a good life, serving as a tree to hold one end of the Burr family's hammock, and giving us shade, maple sap, and leaves to play in for many years. I'm going to miss that stately tree; there will be an empty spot in our side yard for years to come.

In my estimation, trees are much like children. We bring them into the world, nurture them, and watch them grow and develop. Coming from "good soil," our past if you will, they acquire deep roots to hold them up through the trials and tribulations of growing up. Those who know their roots, it has been found, seldom become a burden to family or community.

Much like our children when they make their mark on the world, our trees have their contributions to make. "Have you hugged a tree today?" became part of the national campaign to raise up the importance of trees to life on earth. Producing the oxygen to sustain life could not be a greater calling. We can love our trees for this gift as much as we love our children for the joy they bring us. The added gifts of fruits, nuts, syrups and medicines are equally important to our lives, much as the love and support that comes from our children and their families.

"As the twig is bent, so grows the tree," places trees and children in a similar category. Tis true, and should be one of our greatest considerations in growing trees and children. Those who raise children, and trees, have the greatest influence on their growth. In today's world, we often live with the results of neglect, violence and the lack of proper upbringing in too many of our youth.

My children once gave me a packet of growing things to plant along a hedge to provide food and cover for wild animals. I planted them out in the field and one of the spruce tree seedlings ended up partially under an old fence. When it grew, it became stunted and twisted. Once I discovered that the "twig was bent," I took action to try to improve the growing conditions. (Intervention!) Moving the tree to a new site, adding some extra water (love) and fertilizer (care), the tree grew straight, tall and is enjoyed to this day by all who pass it. Much the same can be done for our youth when they are "bent."

Spending time with your trees and with your children results in greater returns than can be imagined. One of the biggest regrets I often heard from parents is they wished they had spent more time with their children. Well cared for fruit trees and nut trees reflect the time we spend on them and well cared for children are much the same. Trimming the trees to help them grow straight and tall (discipline) produces valuable logs. Molding our children into good adults also will produce lives of value for them and for society.

We might say: "May our trees grow like children, and our children grow like trees, bringing us joy for all the years to come!" The world needs good trees, and good children; it would not be the same without them.



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