Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hope Returns

Looking outside my window it is patently impossible to believe that there is anything wrong with the environment. Branches that appeared to be little more than dead sticks a few weeks ago are now a rich riot of green. The earth, very recently cold and seemingly barren, is now home to a dozen different spring flowers - each one dancing joyously in the spring breeze.

And then there are the trees. The silent skeletons that stood like sentinels through months of cold, damp, wind and rain are suddenly adorned in gentle canopies of green. Still so virginal, not completely mature, waiting like young maidens at a dance to spread their foliage wide open and join in the frenzy dance of life renewed.

I have to admit that late May is probably my favourite time of year. There are so many shades of green visible, that it's virtually impossible to begin to name them, let alone drink in their beauty. The soft green of a new leaf, the crisp green of a tulip leaf unfolding to reveal its crimson guest, the electric green of new grass made even more vibrant by a late afternoon rain, the lemon-lime of willow trees as they hang their sweet branches down, almost to scrape the earth, creating magical tents in the process.

There is another reason why I love spring so much. Both our boys, now young men, were born in May. When they were little, my husband Brian taught our two boys, that their birthdays would arrive when the leaves came back on the trees. This idea particularly fascinated our oldest son, Matthew. As a young child, Matthew would begin watching the trees as soon the snow had melted, waiting for the very first buds of life to appear.

"Is it my birthday, yet?" Matthew would ask his Dad.

"Are the leaves back on the trees, son?" Brian would reply.

When the boys were little we hung a swing from one of the trees. Matthew in particular loved being pushed up into the mighty branches of the tree, where thousands of leaves would tickle him.

"Push me up into the leaves, Daddy!" Matthew would squeal with delight.

As I sat looking up into the trees last weekend, reveling in their new birth, I realized that while I am impressed at their tremendous girth, what a mazes me most is the tiny branches at their tips. It is this new fragile growth that reaches the furthest and extends the life of the trees into the heavens above. It was these branches that sparkled most in the afternoon sun, dancing lightly in the breeze and capturing my heart.

Like our children, trees are magnificent gifts of creation that enrich our lives beyond comprehension. Their magnificent canopies reduce the heat of a summer's day and provide shelter and warmth from the winter's wind. Trees are the lungs of the planet, providing life-giving oxygen and absorbing the carbon dioxide that threatens the very stability of our climate. They are sanctuaries for the human spirit and provide a compact between generations. Like our children, trees keep us rooted to the ground and yet they encourage us to look skyward to the heavens and to possibilities we can only imagine.


This weekend, celebrate the return of spring and the miracle of new life by planting a tree. Make sure that you pick an indigenous variety that won’t threaten other plant life.

In one year, a single tree can offset the carbon dioxide produced by a car driving 41,600 kilometers. In addition, trees also filter toxic pollutants from the air with their leaves and from ground water with their roots. Three trees strategically planted around your home can reduce heating costs 10 to 30 percent, and cooling costs by 10 to 50 percent. To find out more about environmental and economic value of trees, visit the following websites:

Most people can name their province's official flower, but did you know that each province and territory has its own tree, too? To find out more, visit the Canadian Forestry Association.

The Global Forest Science website offers a comprehensive guide to the most common trees of Canada.

Tree Canadais a charitable organization dedicated to encouraging Canadians to plant and care for trees in our urban and rural environments.


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