A society grows great when old men plant trees, the shade of which they know they will never sit in.
These hemlocks were planted by such a man. They were chosen carefully. The Eastern or Canada hemlock is a coniferous tree native to Eastern North America. Their small needles lay flat and the top of the tree is weepy. Planting any old tree species won’t do. Being mindful of the choice of tree makes for a stronger forest. To paraphrase the quote above by the character Penelope Wilton played in Afterlife: Good happens when an old man plants trees knowing he won’t live long enough to sit under their shade.
Yet it takes more than just planting to make good happen. It also takes tending. Invasive species can crowd out native species. Pruning dead and fallen branches is a big part of managing a healthy forest.
Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a botanist and environmentalist who champions the value of trees. She is particularly adamant that we protect the boreal forest to reduce the harm done by carbon emissions and to reduce the effects of global warming. Science does not completely understand how the chemistry of this happens so cannot alone counter nay-sayers. Recognizing how to make all forests sacred will go a longer way to achieve this goal. She was the inspiration behind Heartwood, an anthology of poems by Canadian poets who love trees and recognize their importance. Here’s my verse written for the good man who planted trees for the benefit of your children:
Moon shadows on the garden, Song breaks a cricket chorus, World of tall pines and dwarf plants