We suggested you go. We even did it ourselves. But in the end, it was probably a difficult sell, as counting trees doesn’t exactly excite the senses. But the neighborhood tree inventory was more than that. It was a learning experience; a way to meet new neighbors; a different way to see the ‘hood; and then there’s the fact that it was a step to get more trees for Foster-Powell.
And thanks to one volunteer, Ruth Williams, we can now say it was somewhat poetic, too.
Here’s her account:
“We arrived at Foster carts and happy espresso was giving all the volunteers delicious coffee. We got our clipboards and vests. Someone rumored there was a zizyphus tree in area 13, but we had to see it to believe it.
“Groups of two or three set off to count the trees, some on bikes, some walking. Arborists on call roamed to assist with tricky species. We found trees that were full of berries for birds, walnuts for squirrels, pears, apples, apricots, cherries and figs for people to eat. A pair of hornbeams supported a red hammock. A porch was covered in hops. A toddler rode by on a red tricycle. A weeping birch danced in the wind. We debated whether chestnuts or cryptomeria were sharper. We found an Acer that stumped the experts with sets of three leaflets, Manchurian maple, or box elder? A spirited debate ensued.
“Some blocks had no street trees at all. Some blocks had eleven inch planting strips which would be unlikely to support any worthwhile-sized tree. The locust flowers were blooming pink a little late, and the ashes were glowing in yellow fall color. Different teams counted 68 or 110 trees or so. A volunteer visiting from Germany recognized trees, their Latin botanical names being the same everywhere. We decided Fosterites love eating vegetables and fruits from their front yards. We felt this was a neighborhood where people are respectful of their neighbor’s pumpkins, not a smashing pumpkins kind of place.
“We finished up with a stop on 69th st to see the fabled zizyphus, covered in grape-sized ju-jus, bright green, healthy, a botanical oddity. Volunteers regrouped at the carts for beer, burritos, and brownies.
“It was warm. We went home to lie down and dream of the melodious species of our neighborhood trees, Nyssa sylvatica, Elaeganus multiflora, Zizyphus jujuba, Tilia cordata. These silent sentinels stand tall along our streets slowing stormwater runoff, combing air pollutants away, producing oxygen, shade and fruit, Adding color, fragrance and grace to our yards and homes. Shading our hammocks for naps. Counting the trees reminds us of all the things we count on them for.”
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