Arbor Day 2009!
Did you know….Arbor day was started in 1854 by a pioneer, Sterling Morton, who trekked with his wife from Detroit to the Nebraska Territories to establish their home and farm? The couple loved nature and they, along with other pioneers migrating west, missed their trees from the east. In addition, they found that they needed trees to act as wind breaks to keep soil in place, give them building materials and provide fuel.
So, Morton started a movement through the agricultural community and in 1872, the first Tree Planting Holiday was created. The original date was April 10th and there were prizes for the county or individual that planted the most trees on that single day. Reports state that over 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska that day!
The date was later changed to April 22, Morton’s birthday, and in 1885 school children got involved, meeting in classrooms to plant at least one tree, labeling them and declaring that the tree would be cared for by that grade. A great parade ensued with over 1,000 children marching to the Nebraska City Opera House, each grade carrying banners in celebration of their tree plantings.
Through the 1880s other states adopted resolutions to recognize Arbor Day and it took off from there, and I’m glad it did….fast forward a hundred years or so…..
When I was growing up in the 1970s, I remember each Arbor Day being sent home from school with a plastic bag with a seedling sticking out of it. I remember my 3rd grade seedling in particular because it was when I really started waking up to nature. First, I should say, it’s amazing that this little pine survived my sweaty little hands, the drops on the ground, and the bus ride home but after getting through that gauntlet, my dad and I planted it in our backyard near my swing.
As we dug the hole and situated the little seedling, my dad uttered something to the effect that it would probably need some lime……Ok, so to this 7 year old, limes were green and round and found in the refrigerator, and a few days later, seeing that my dad wasn’t doing anything about the lime, I tracked it down myself by asking my mother for some. I went outside and carefully squeezed it on the ground around the seedling. I proceeded to casually care for the tree and watch it grow over the years as I swung on my swing and slowly grew along side it.
Thirty (or so) years later, my parents have long since moved from that house but my mother still lives in the area, and from time to time when visiting up there, I’ll drive by to check on it. It’s a fully grown tree now, a few broken limbs here and there and some other wear and tear but nothing unexpected for our age.
I tell this story because planting a tree with a son or daughter can make all the difference. For me, it was one of those early connections with nature that has survived the decades of changes in my life. It serves as a touchstone that always reinforces my connection with nature as well as a marker for time and events that have passed.
So, this Arbor Day, I hope you’ll pick up the Arbor Day tradition and plant a tree. This coming Saturday, you can head over to Oatlands Plantation where the Loudoun Arbor Day Celebration is being held. In the tradition of the originators of Arbor Day, there will be a parade at 11:00 which is always fun to see, and tree seedlings will be given away for free (yes, free!) by the Virginia Dept of Forestry and the Loudoun County Soil and Water District. There will also be all sorts of demonstrations, nature displays, and of course, the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy fair booth will be set up and stocked with cool handouts and fun stuff.
Learn more about Arbor Day from the Arbor Day Foundation at http://www.arborday.org/arborday/index.cfm and let us know how your tree planting goes 🙂