Then the Lord God planted a garden in the East, in a place called Eden. He put the person he had formed in that garden. The Lord God caused every beautiful tree and every tree that was good for food to grow out of the ground. In the middle of the garden, God put the tree that gives life. – Genesis 2: 8-9 From the Illustrated Children’s Bible
Close to our house, there is a huge American Basswood tree. It has been there since I was young, and probably grew from a seed that was dropped by a bird or by the wind. Birds rest in that tree all year round. The buds of the tree are getting fatter now that it is spring, and soon tiny leaves will start to grow. Later, tiny flower shoots will start to appear. In the summer the tree is covered with thousands of fragrant white flowers. Bees, insects and pollinators swarm all over the tree and bring the pollen back to their hives. Some of the hives are underground, in a stone wall, or in a tree, and some are in people’s yards. You may have eaten some honey made from Basswood nectar! In the fall, after the blossoms have been pollinated, the basswood tree produces small hard fruit, called nutlets, that birds like to eat. (We could eat them too, but they don’t taste as good to us as they do to birds! ) The birds fly and poop out the seeds. In October, when leaves start to fall, the leaves cover the ground like a blanket, protecting plants and seeds and the insects and animals who live underground from winter’s cold. Over the years, the fallen leaves and branches decompose and become soil. Some of the seeds that fall are killed by the cold, but each spring I find a LOT of baby basswood trees growing in my yard.
All plants and all beings are connected by what we call “the web of life.” Trees are an important part of that web. Trees give us life. They provide food for birds, animals, people and other plants. Their leaves nurture the soil. Animals and birds build nests in trees and we often build our homes from their wood. Our furniture and cabinets, windows and doors are often made of trees. Paper and cardboard are made from trees, and turned into books, newspapers, magazines, boxes and many other things. That’s why it is so important for us to recycle paper and cardboard and to use it wisely. Every time we recycle or write on both sides of a piece of paper we are helping to save a tree!
Yesterday I spent some time walking in the Soldiers’ Memorial Woods on the south side of Lobster Cove, near Washington Street. Green moss and small plants were growing beneath some of the trees and the ground was covered with acorns dropped from oak trees last fall. Oak and beech trees were beginning to bud, and tiny red flowers grew from the branches of the sugar maples. I discovered small trees growing on the forest floor, and rotted trees, where insects and animals nest. The insects help the dead branches decompose and become soil, so that more trees can grow. I also found paper, plastic and bottles that people had thrown on the ground.
Many of you will be on vacation next week and I know you will want to spend time outside enjoying the springtime. Next week will also be Earth Week, which is a wonderful time to explore the woods with your family. You could visit the woods near Squam Rock, the woods surrounding Mt. Adnah Cemetery, the Soldiers’ Memorial Wood (where I went) or you could explore parts of Dogtown. Bring some friends along and plan a clean-up! You will need some trash bags, sturdy shoes and gloves to protect your hands. Pick up anything that is man made: plastic or paper. Tell your parents or other adults if you find metal or glass, which can be sharp, and they can put that in a trash bag too.
You probably know the story of The Lorax, by the amazing Dr. Seuss! It is the perfect book to read or listen to this week! After you’ve watched the Lorax, take some time to talk about it. The Lorax Project from Seussville asks some great questions for you, your family and your friends to think about and talk about.
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
When you have some quiet time, you might also enjoy listening to The Great Kapok Tree, or coloring this image. They both remind us of the web of life, and to care for this beautiful world that God created. I usually pull up the baby basswood trees when they are in a place where I don’t want a tree. But this year I will move a few to a protected corner, so that I can transplant them next year, and watch them grow.
I hope the week ahead of you is wonder-filled: full of new discoveries as you explore the world around you. Reverend Sue will be reading the following wonderful poem by Illan Shamir at the end of Sunday’s worship service. We wish these things for all of you!
Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter
Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night.
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!
p.s. Image from Virginia Lee Burton