Wednesday, October 20, 2010

6 Reasons to Plant a Tree

I'm no eco-hippie. Let me start there. Besides a preference for being barefoot, I have little in common with the eco-hippies. However, I like plants. I like flowers and trees and the smell of freshly-turned earth and freshly-mowed lawns. So, I was pleased when my mother brought home a little baby tree from Ikea for me.

I'd had "Plant a tree" on my bucket list for a while, so I was especially happy to be able to cross it off, but I never really had any reasons for putting it there in the first place. So, I shall now retroactively make reasons for planting a tree.

  • New plants are happy. It is delightful to plant a new plant. I love the combination of hope that it will grow into something lovely, and fear that it will die because of my foolish or neglectful hands. It is also healthy to grow plants, to be around plants, to put effort into nurturing plants and yet not have to worry about plants like you do pets. Plants are little uncomplicated centers of life. And they have such lovely shades of green.
  • You'll learn something about growing plants. Even if you are terrible with plants and the tree dies (or accidentally gets mowed), you'll learn something about plants, and what not to do with them. Gardening is very much a practice-oriented hobby. I used to be terrible at keeping plants alive, but I think I've learned some of the secrets. One of them is to choose easy plants.
  • You'll get to enjoy the tree as it grows. It seems fairly simple to take care of little trees. Water them, sun them, don't let the lawn guy mow them (perhaps start it in a well-drained pot and transplant it later), and you'll have a tree if you keep it up! Put in a little effort for the ongoing joy of your own personal tree. Even when it's a seedling, a tree is a pretty thing, and it is typically enjoyable to look at pretty things.
  • It's an exercise in selflessness. Face it, you probably won't get to enjoy much of this tree. By the time it's big enough to climb, you'll be too old to climb it without injuring yourself. It's even likely you'll move from this particular property and have to leave the tree behind, to be enjoyed by the folks who move in after you. So maybe your kids or your grandkids or the kids of the future buyers of your home will enjoy it. Grow the tree for them.
  • It's an exercise in thinking 4th-dimensionally. "Thinking 4th-dimensionally" is a Doc Brown phrase that refers to considering how something will be in the future, or how it was in the past, instead of only how it is in the present. In this case, when you see a baby tree, you should also see how it will look when it gets large. There is an extra challenge in this when Ikea doesn't bother to tell you what kind of tree they gave you.
  • You'll make an eco-hippie friend smile. Eco-hippies love when people plant trees.

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