Sunday, April 22, 2012

Akron Trees on Earth Day

Buckeye nut
One of the things I love about Akron Ohio is our trees.  The city has always maintained the trees in what we call the devil strip, that patch of grass between the sidewalk and the street.  When I was a child we had Buckeyes, the state tree. Ohio Buckeyes are related to the chestnut and horse chestnut.  The nut is encased in a spiny green fruit.  I remember them bouncing off my head on early fall afternoons, as I walked home from school (ow!).  One could have an artificial limb made of Buckeye, back in the day, or one's casket crafted from its wood.  Now it is used for pulp and feels to be fairly scarce along our city's streets.

Before the Buckeyes were the elm trees.  Majestic, with an expansive canopy, the American Elm tree lined streets throughout this country. Most American Elms died off from Dutch Elm disease.  The disease first appeared in 1930 in Ohio, most mature elm trees were gone by the 1970s.  The dutch elm fungus is spread by a beetle and along roots where trees are close together.  

American Elm
I have the opportunity to plant trees on my land on North Maple St.  I can plant anything I want but buckeyes and elms are part of my heritage (along with sour cherries but that may have more to do with pie...).  They feel like arboreal familiars alive with the essence of this place.   Nurturing an elm tree to maturity would require vigilance and fungicide.  This is the mystery of ecological change.  What was part of my environment at ten may not be viable almost fifty years later.  The Dutch elm fungus is now part of this ecosystem, along with other invasives such as japanese knotweed, purple loosestrife, the Asian long-horned beetle and a relative newcomer,  the blacklegged tick (deer tick). 

I plan to wage a vigorous campaign against knotweed but then I need to listen to this land as it is now.  Nothing remains the same.  Nostalgia will not fix our environments. But a girl does need to have a sour cherry tree or three.

Today's poem:
Excerpts of Eclogue 1 by Virgil, Paul Alpers, translator

You, Tityrus, under the spreading, sheltering beech,
Tune woodland musings on a delicate reed:
We flee our country's borders, our sweet fields,
Abandon home; you, lazing in the shade,
Make woods resound with lovely Amaryllis.
O Melibee, a god grants us this peace --
A god to me forever, whose altar
A young lamb from our folds will often bleed.
He has allowed, you see, my herds to wander 
And me to play as I will on shepherd's pipes.
Not jealous, but amazed am I -- our fields
Are everywhere in turmoil: look at me,
Sick, driving my goats, scarcely leading this one.
Here in thick hazels, laboring on bare rock,
She left the flock's one hope, her twins just born:
A curse well augured, had our wits not been
Blind to the oaks struck down by heaven above ...
Luck old man! your lands will then remain
Yours and enough for you, although bare rock
and slimy marsh reeds overspread the fields.
Strange forage won't invade your heavy ewes,
Nor foul diseases from a neighbor's flocks ...

Ah, but we others leave for thirsty lands --
Still, you could take your rest with me tonight,
Couched on green leaves: there will be apples ripe,
soft roasted chestnuts, plenty of pressed cheese,
Already rooftops in the distance smoke,
And lofty hills let fall their lengthening shade.


  1. Thank you great trees for your beauty, your gift of oxygen, and your persistence in struggling to keep our planet green. I love white pine trees. I grew up across the street from one. There is a tulip tree also laying down her soft petals and a weeping willow down the street. I'll tell you a secret... I have often longed to make love to a beech tree. Thanks Rebecca, from Nia-Sue Mitchum

  2. I have the opportunity to plant trees on my land on North Maple St. Fast Growing Tree Nursery

  3. As dealing with Dutch elm disease wasn’t bad enough; a new disease hit the elm stands of Penn State. Elm yellows, caused by bacteria, started to kill off trees in 2008.Online Plant Nursery


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