Bucks County, Pennsylvania was a great place to grow up. The neighborhood I grew up in had been built on former orchard fields in the 1960s. It was walkable. It was connected enough to the local bowling alley, convenience store, etc. which meant kids could safely ride their bike and explore without crossing highways. There were woods within a block where I could spend summer afternoons with friends or alone under the trees. There were creeks and trails nearby too.
But one of the things I remember most is the giant Oak tree that my grandfather planted in the front yard that’s growing larger every year. The tree seemed enormous to me then. I would sit under it selling lemonade. I would collect and play with its acorns. I would sit against it. I would try to climb it. It became a part of my childhood experience.
Trees can also be tremendous symbols. What any single generation chooses to conserve forms the first draft of its history. When we take care of great trees, we pass along something that lives beyond us and can touch the lives of people for decades, centuries, and sometimes even longer.
It’s worth planting trees. But if you want a tree to have the potential impact that Oak had for me, it’s got to be intentional. Not decorative trees, but great trees.
Great trees convey a vision. Decorative trees convey a fashion.