Woodman spare that tree! Apparently it takes more than a poem.

Although I received multiple text messages from friends asking me when I was going to go meet the Space Shuttle, I think I made the right decision to pass on the crowds!

Endeavor arrived at Exposition Park more than 16 hours late, following a three-day, 12-mile journey. I hate to admit it out loud, but that’s too slow for me.

To travel across town, park blocks away, enter heavily policed and monitored perimeters in the hope that I could perfectly coordinate what would undoubtedly be no more than a quick glimpse of the shuttle,  just didn’t seem a good use of weekend. I will be one of the first to do my reporting directly from the California Science Center when the installation opens to the public.

Besides, we had other priorities. Our beautiful old oak tree needed a significant haircut. It needs to be professionally manicured every two years to guard against limb breakage and disease. We are faithful in keeping that appointment. And the time was now!

The oak is the heart of our backyard, and the very large canopy creates an amazing micro-climate of shade and cooler temperatures. In the current heat wave, I hated to thin the foliage, but this is the optimum time of year for a mature oak to withstand a heavy pruning.

There are 20 species of oak native to California–worldwide there are 500 to 600 species of oak.  I found an identical species at the Huntington Botanical Gardens and identified our oak as Quercus agrifolia–or Coast Live Oak. It is an evergreen oak and I was pleased to learn that some specimens may flourish more than 250 years.

Judging by the age of our home and the size of the tree, I’d estimate its age to be about 80 years old. With great care the tortoise and the oak are probably more permanent than I am.

Darwin decided to help us transplant a volunteer fig tree. He can be very assertive!

I have felt great sympathy for the people living in a particular swath of Los Angeles along the Endeavor travel route. Not everyone was comforted that the Science Center was prepared to replace approximately 400 mature trees uprooted in order to provide passageway of  the five-story-tall, 78-foot-wide Endeavor. The city was happy that some “problematic” trees were being removed and touted the Science Center’s promise of doubling the number of replacement trees.

But it stands to reason the new trees will take decades to provide the canopies and beauty of the ones removed.  The local citizens were not consulted or brought into any discussion prior to the decision being made to uproot the trees, which sadly, were a source of pride in an otherwise concrete, urban landscape. Many of the city residents were very troubled at the decision. I’d mourn, too.

I think it will be up to the larger community to advocate for the best possible replacement scenario and to make certain the enthusiasm directed towards transporting Endeavor now builds and shifts to bolster urban beautification.

The words that came to my mind were “Woodman, Spare that Tree!” I’m of a “mature” age, but I’m not so old as to really know that poem. But the words came to mind and I found poem and song.  Apparently saving trees has been an environmental challenge for a long time!

The 4th stanza of the 1830 poem by George Pope Morris:

 My heart-strings round thee cling,

Close as thy bark, old friend!

Here shall the wild-bird sing,

And still thy branches bend.

Old tree! the storm still brave!

And, woodman, leave the spot:

While I’ve a hand to save,

Thy axe shall harm it not!

I think Mr. Morris was an early environmentalist, don’t you?

I’d probably be tempted to chain myself to my tree if someone threatened it.

Do you have a favorite tree?

Take my lead…go and give it a hug!