Lessons in Character

clockwise from top left: Black birch (Betula lenta) bole, Ice on trees, American beech (Fagus grandiflora) leaves, and Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Why do people love trees? The easy answer is that they provide us with the essentials for life: food, fuel, shelter, water, breath. That's so much. What else could there be?

Character. Dignity. Flexibility. Patience. Strength. Longevity. Beauty. Awareness.

They yield to the weather. They respond to their surroundings. They compete, and some fall to the ground. The fallen become a tapestry of life: moss quilts on woodpecker drums. Ant tunnels inside nurse logs covered with black birch saplings. Mouse houses and bumblebee hibernation stations.

They slowly share themselves with those still standing. They build thousand year old relationships underground. With delicate fibers, they plunge into the toughest soils. Limbs snap and though crooked, they grow still. The trees turn to face the sun and share with us a vision of character.