Thursday, July 21, 2011
I sometimes joke that the Town-Namers around here had only a few words to choose from--Oak, Park, Forest, River, and Lawn--so they did the best they could, rearranging them in as many combinations as they could think of. Ergo, Forest Park, Park Forest, River Forest, Oak Lawn, and Oak Park, where I live. These names suggest places with bounteous trees, which in this case, fortunately, is true. Unlike Crate & Barrel, which has neither crates nor barrels, or Pottery Barn, which is definitely not a barn and has only a minor focus on pottery.
I am used to living in places with lots of trees, and I enjoy their many pleasures--watching them magically bud out in the spring, withdrawing into the cool of their shade in the summer, and marveling at their autumn color show. Even in the winter, their towering skeletons add definition to the landscape.
Here in Oak Park, we do have a good number of large, impressive oaks. We used to have elms, but those are almost all gone now because of Dutch Elm disease. Currently, our local arborists are removing all the ash trees because of the Emerald Ash Borer invasion. Fortunately, the arborists are replacing these tress with other varieties, and we will all hope for the best.We have lots of other kinds of trees, too--honey locusts, maples. The Maples make the most magnificent show in the fall.
I once had a friend visit from Belize, and she had never seen a maple before. She came running in the house to ask, "What is that?" The maple was as exotic to her as a frangipani or a baobab would be to me. Here's a baobab.
Another time, I had a visitor from Arizona, and she was spooked by all the trees and canopy they created. She said she was used to being able to see exactly where she was all the time and what was around her, and all the trees made her feel claustrophobic and vulnerable. Another visitor from Arizona (who had grown up on the East Coast) delighted in being able to sit under a tree and rest her back on its trunk--something you definitely can't do with a saguaro (ouch).
One of my favorite kind of tree is the Live Oak--the kind they have in New Orleans--which to me seem like some kind of plant animal hybrid, especially when they have all that moss hanging from them.
I've been thinking about trees because, as you all likely know, it's very, very hot outside, and while I was walking today, I was thinking that even though they're not moaning and groaning about it (at least not in a way we can hear), the heat is likely as stressful for trees as it is for the rest of us creatures.