“We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and men … trees are travelers, in the
ordinary sense. They make journeys, not very extensive ones, it is true: but our own
little comes and goes are only little more than tree wavings –
many of them not so much.”
– John Muir 1878
On Friday, the thermometer reached 99 degrees (let’s just say, “100”)! Exactly one week earlier, torrential thunderstorms crashed through and lit up the foothills. Somewhere on April’s calendar this year have been a few days with weather more typical of spring – the kind that pulls you right out the door, perhaps into a garden. And this leads my thoughts to Arbor Day, a time set aside to plant and care for trees. Nebraska was the first state to celebrate this day. In time, all states have established their own Arbor days, based on the weather and climate of their regions. Survival and planting of a tree are dependent on these factors. California chose March 7 though March 14 to be the most optimal days, so put that shovel away, you are too late … maybe. But to avoid confusion of varying dates, a National Arbor Day was established and is observed every year on the last Friday of April – rain or shine. In the Crescenta Valley, Arbor Day will actually be recognized on the last Saturday in April.
A few years ago, when Valley View Elementary School was the newest school in the district, landscaping was sparse, not many trees. Every year on Arbor Day, we would gather around our principal Mr. Logston and janitor Mr. Owens as they dug a hole and lowered a tree into place. The ceremony was complete with the flag salute and singing of “America The Beautiful.”
Over the years, the trees grew to maturity, providing shade for the student population. I don’t imagine the campus lacks for trees, but I do wonder if the students still gather outside on the last day of April?
The origins of this tree planting day date back to the mid 1800s. The westward movement had begun in earnest. The settlers left behind the forests and lush vegetation of the east, as the plains were covered mostly in grasses. This new territory had rich soil that was also favorable for growing shade and fruit trees. Trees were needed for building homes, barns and schools, fences, windbreaks and fuel.
A Nebraskan by the name of J. Sterling Morton in 1872 suggested to the State Board of Agriculture a holiday to plant trees. One hundred dollars was awarded to the county planting the most. The first Arbor Day was a huge success with over one million trees planted in a single day.
“Remember the Past, Plant for the Future” is the theme for the annual Arbor Day ceremony at Two Strike Park, this Saturday, April 28 at 9 a.m.
Spring weather is promised for this day and into next week. No shovel needed – only a hat!
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.