Two trees

The last thirty days have been dry here. The dirt in our little garden beside our building is powder dry, and half of the flowers have died from thirst. When you walk around our neighborhood, you can tell which people have automatic watering systems for their lawns, because their grass is green and soft, while everyone else’s grass is golden brown and crisp.

At church today, we had our usual ingathering worship service, where everyone is invited to bring a small amount of water from their summer adventures and add it to a communal bowl. When the worship service was over, we took the bowl out beside the church, and the children of the church helped spread the water around the big old cedar tree growing there.

More water probably got on the children than got to the tree, and as soon as we were done, the children tore off to run around in circles once again. Cora and I stood there watching them, and we talked about how dry the last month or so has been. Cora said that she had heard that trees older than a hundred years are beginning to have a hard time with the lack of water. She pointed out some of the signs of lack of water on our big old cedar tree: loosened bark and cracks in the wood, which can provide access to insect pests.

Trees are having a tough time of it in general these days. Trees face a variety of invasive pests — the Eastern Hemlocks are dying from Woolly Aldegid infestations, and if the Asian Longhorn Beetle escapes its present quarantine in New York City, we’ll lose the maples, willows, horse chestnuts, and more. There’s global climate change, which some people predict will adversely impact many trees. And trees face other human-caused problems, like road salt which builds up near roads and kills trees. It makes sense to keep our trees as healthy as possible, so that they will have a better chance of surviving road salt, global climate change, and invasive insect pests.

So I said to Cora that I guessed it would be a good idea to ask our church sexton to put a hose out this week and water our big old cedar, and the oak tree, too. She said she thought that would be a good idea. We went back to watching her daughter and the other children run around under the trees, and it occurred to me that Cora had played under those same two trees back when she was a child growing up in our church.