You’ll see Christmas trees dying â€” their needles turned brown.
30 million dead trees â€” that’s what you’ll find! “Just some more numbers to boggle your mind.” That’s good old Rick Dungey â€” head of public relations For theÂ National Christmas Tree Association. He fields lots of calls â€” and often they’re dumb, Or perhaps fueled by eggnog with way too much rum. “My tree’s doing great! It’s still taking up water!” The calls start okay, but then they get odder: “Will it regrow roots and continue to live?” “Well, no,” is the answer that Rick has to give.
But there is still hope â€” for all cross the nation There’s a sort of arborial tree-incarnation! When everyone’s done with theirÂ O Tannebaum-in’ Rick Dungey explains, “Mulching programs are common.” “But there have been some creative ones out there,” he adds. Some trees get a new life that isn’t half bad.
Near Jefferson, La., volunteers place recycled Christmas trees inside man-made wooden cribs in the shallow water of a local marsh in January 2011. The trees absorb wave action and protect fragile marshland from erosion.
Jefferson Parish Department of Environmental Affairs/AP
Down in Louisiana, where the land meets the ocean. “We place them out in the marsh to combatÂ coastal erosion.” At theÂ Department of Environmental Affairs Jason Smith uses trees to make coastal repairs. The trees trap the soil, and make the waves slow, “And aquatic vegetation can begin to grow.”
At Oakland’s fineÂ zoo, the word “trunk” is a term That applies to both Christmas trees andÂ pachyderms. The beasts lumber past, pining for treats Rooting around for a new thing to eat. Gina Kinzley, their keeper, says they prefer The sweet evergreens. “The noble firs.” The trees are both playthings and part of their diet And they’re not alone, other animals try it. Giraffe and zebra also give it a try “Lions, tigers, the bears!” Oh my! “The elephants really enjoy the bark.” It looks just like Christmas aboard Noah’s Ark.
TheÂ fishermenÂ up north in Portland were stumped TheÂ fishÂ population has recently slumped. And part of the reason, says Mr.Â Mike Gentry Is that some of the streams are deplorably empty. Of woody debris for the coho and trout There’s no habitat! So it’s time to branch out. “They need cover from predators.” (to hide out below) “They need a calm place to rest and grow. They also need a food source.” So Gentry and his team Sink dead Christmas treesÂ in their swift local streams.
In the East, Mitchell Mann and Dominic Esposito Are two Jersey boys who live by one credo: “To save the environment, pretty much, being green.” So they drummed up aÂ posse of like-minded teens. They’llÂ grab all the treesÂ â€” every one within reach And they’ll bring them all down to nearby Bradley Beach. “Once the trees are on the beach they’re laid down against a fence.” Where they form the foundation of the town’s defense. “And as the wind blows the trees capture the sand.” And soon dunes will form â€” at least that’s the plan. And in future years, “When a storm comes through It protects all the houses,” and habitat too.
Though their life has been sapped and their trunks have been hewn These trees might form forests in marshes and dunes. And dead groves will grow in the rivers and zoos.
I like the way Frost defends the fir trees growing on his land, refusing to sell them for a pittance. Â Frost’s words paint a beautiful picture of “my woods–the young fir balsams like a place where houses all are churches and have spires.” Â Frost beautifully describes a December day at his place in Vermont, “where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.”Â
In reading a littleÂ aboutÂ this poem, I learned something interesting. Â For nearly 30 years, Frost worked with a printer, Joe Blumenthal, to produce finely-printed Christmas cards that beautifully and delicately illustrated Frost’s poetry. Â Each year, the poet selected a different poem for that year’s Â card. Â Sent to Frost’s friends, the cardsÂ have been described as “probably the mostÂ ornate and unique Christmas cards they ever received.”–April MooreÂ
Robert Frost (1920)
(A Christmas Circular Letter)The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woodsâ€”the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadnâ€™t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
Iâ€™d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more Iâ€™d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
â€śThere arenâ€™t enough to be worth while.â€ť
â€śI could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.â€ťâ€śYou could look.
But donâ€™t expect Iâ€™m going to let you have them.â€ť
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded â€śYesâ€ť to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyerâ€™s moderation, â€śThat would do.â€ť
I thought so too, but wasnâ€™t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, â€śA thousand.â€ťâ€śA thousand Christmas trees!â€”at what apiece?â€ťHe felt some need of softening that to me:
â€śA thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.â€ťThen I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didnâ€™t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldnâ€™t lay one in a letter.
I canâ€™t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.
After years of anguish and suffering–to wildlife and humans–caused by the 2010 BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, I am happy to report some very good news about the restoration work taking place.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the congressionally chartered nonprofit corporation that is receiving and administering the $2.54 billion in fines BP and Transocean have been ordered to pay for remediation, appears to be doing an excellent job. Â The Foundation has been praised by many for ensuring that the restoration funds are spent in ways that do the most to remedy harm and to reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources affected by the 2010 disaster. Â The NFWF’s work is “an impressive, comprehensive, integrated restoration effort,” noted the Ocean Conservancy in a press release.
For example, in issuing restoration grants, NFWF has adopted a regional, ecosystem-wide approach, funding efforts that build on each other across multiple states. Â And NFWF is investing in grants that focus on the marine environment as well as coastal environments. Â These two types of environment, though very different from each other, form two halves of a single whole. Â The restoration of one half would be incomplete without the other.
As part of a five-year period during which the $2.54 billion will be spent for restoration, the most recent round of grants included 25 projects totaling more than $99 million.Â The funded projects will: Â track the recovery of key fish species like red snapper; Â respond to stranded dolphins and manatees; Â map the seafloor off the Florida coast to inform sustainable fishing practices; and much more.
“Every American has a stake in restoring the Gulf,” notes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe. Â â€śThe Gulf of Mexico is a national treasure, supporting a vast network of native wildlife and coastal ecosystems while providing jobs and economic growth to millions of Americans,” he explains. Â Ashe and others have praised the state governments of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for working collaboratively with the Foundation to invest in projects to restore the Gulf.–April MooreÂ
When I was a kid, growing up in the 1950s, I thought of Germany as a Very Bad Country. Â After all, the Germans had started not just one, but twoÂ World Wars. Â And the Holocaust that they created was horrific beyond belief.
Â In contrast, the United States was truly a great country. Â We played a major role in ensuring that Hitler did not ultimately succeed in taking over Europe. Â And thanks to our Marshall Plan, we rebuilt Europe and helped restore peace and prosperity to that wartorn continent. Â I was proud to be an American, and I had good reason to be.
But things are different now.Â
When it comes to adequately addressing the climate crisis–the very most important task faced by the world’s governments today–it seems the United States and Germany have traded places. Â
Now Germany is in the hero’s role. Â More than any other country, Germany has embraced renewable energy sources and reduced its dependence on fossil fuels. Â In fact, 37% of Germany’s daily electricity needs are now met by solar and wind power. Â And Germany is on track to meet 100% of its energy needs from renewables by 2050!
I wish I could claim that the United States is also a leader in addressing the climate crisis. Â My country, formerly an inspiration to the world for what is right and just, is doing next to nothing to ensure a livable world for our children and grandchildren. Â In fact, the United States, the country most responsible for the accumulated carbon dioxide pollution in our atmosphere, Â just elected a Congress in which both houses are led by people who deny well-established climate science. Â
At just the time when we desperately need bold and committed action to bring down our greenhouse gas emissions, many of our national leaders are firmly in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry, working to make sure that nothing gets in the way of huge profits for the wealthiest industry the world has ever seen.
And President Obama, who as a candidate in 2008, admitted the seriousness of the climate crisis, in fact did next to nothing about it during his first term. Â Obama has recently begun to take meaningful steps, like his meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, in which both leaders pledged significant action on the climate. Â While I applaud this action, it is actually very little, very late, when the window we have available to avert the worst global warming impacts is rapidly closing.
Tragically, the United States has abdicated its former leadership role among the world’s countries. Â Currently contributing about a quarter of the world’s daily greenhouse emissions, we are the greatest impediment to warding off Â catastrophe.
We should learn from and emulate the actions of our former enemy.–April Moore
On a recent hike in the Shenandoah National Park with my friend Kathy, we saw some rocks that were truly amazing! Â They were unlike any I’d ever seen.
A sign along the main trail directed us to a side trail that would lead us to an unusual rock formation called columnar jointing. Â We took this side trail down a steep hill, past a massive rock.Â It was only when we turned to look back up at that rock that we suddenly understood why these rocks were not to be missed!
The downhill side of the giant rock face looked like a bundle of hexagonal columns, all sliced crosswise to similar but not identical lengths.Â The hexagonal shape of each column was so distinct that these rocks looked like crystal formations. Â Here is a photo I took of the rocks:
Like many hikers before us, no doubt, Kathy and I were intrigued by these rocks and wondered how they had been formed. Â So a few days later, I did a little research.
Apparently, these rocks are well-preserved cooling columns from major lava flows that occurred some 570 million years ago. Â At that time, two tectonic plates began to spread apart along a system of rifts thousands of miles long. Â Molten basalt from deep inside the earth rose through these rifts, spilling out onto the earth’s surface in vast quantities that eventually covered more than 4,000 square miles.
As the liquid basalt cooled, it solidified, forming very angular, polygonal cracks similar to those found in drying mud. Â Under the right conditions, these cracks can extend many tens of feet and produce a structure that looks like long, polygonal columns of rock, which geologists call columnar jointing.–April Moore