Category Archives: Plants

Imagine a world without trees

We had no idea how many trees were on earth, but there were plenty of wild quesses. The September  issue of the journal Nature provided much needed answers. Three trillion! There are 7 billion folks walking around, that’s 425 trees per person. Is that a lot of trees per person?

The study theorizes that at the beginning of civilization, there were 6 trillion trees. Yes indeed, half the earth’s trees are no more. The investigators estimate that we are losing 10 billion trees per year. In 150 years, there will only be half again, 1.5 trillion trees. We can count on 10 billion folks walking around 150 years from now. That’s only 150 trees per person. Yikes!

Let’s assume that 150 years ago there were less than 1 billion folks walking around amonst 4.5 trillion trees. Back in the day, there were 4,500 trees per person. We were tree rich, now we are heading towards tree bankrupcy.

What good are trees you ask? They clean water, stabilize climates, build fertile soil, provide food and raw materials, and soak up carbon emmissions to mediate the effects of global warming. You might come to the conclusion that they are one of the most important organisms on earth. They are also beautiful and produce oxygen, you know, the stuff we breathe!

Human activity is the most significant cause of the decline in trees. Currently, 50% of the trees live in tropical and subtropical regions, 25% live in temperate zones, and 25% live in the northern boreal forests. The boreal forests happen to be the most dense, 1 tree per square meter. That’s about a square yard for you nonmetric people. The following map shows the worldwide distribution of trees.

  
That strip across the top is the boreal forest. My fear is that as the climate warms and the boreal forests dry out, there will be massive wildfires that greatly increase the rate of future tree loss. If you have ever seen a wildfire, you know that dry trees growing close together burn like crazy.

We should have a goal of increasing the number of trees on earth to 4 trillion. As the population grows to 10 billion, that keeps our current ratio of about 400 trees per person intact. Note: I have rounded numbers to make the math more pleasing to the eye without changing the overall gruesome results.

My advise, while trees abound,

Get out there and be amazed…

  
 

Plants as Pets?

Often they are invisible, the plants we keep. Some grow inside our homes, many grow in our gardens. Others live naturally in nature and have captured our attention. Unlike dogs, cats, birds and reptiles, we do not commonly associate plants as pets. We give plants attention and care. Feed, prune and nurture. If we don’t they often die or struggle. Yet we do not regard them in the same manner as our animal friends.

We should consider why this is the case. With what significance do we regard plants as lifeforms? The closer a life form is to our own human form, the more mindful we are of their significance. We regard chimpanzees, whales and elephants as almost equals, due to their similarity to our human thought processes. Insects and plants get little respect.

Why? Plants are fellow lifeforms. Intrinsically, they are based on the same model as animals. Organic carbon lifeforms, utilizing amino acid proteins which are produced genetically from DNA codes.

On the surface, most lifeforms are different from human, but deep, deep down at a fundamental level, every species is equally sacred. Each individual of every species is unique and is blessed with the gift of being alive and as such should be treated with respect.

So why not plants as pets. If there is a particular plant that you are drawn to, then consider it a friend and create your own personal relationship.

My friend Tina had a spiritual relationship with a tree. It was about a half mile from her house on the hillside. She would walk to the tree every day and then sit quietly over looking the surrounding valley. Tina named the tree the “Yew” tree.

I now live in the house that Tina once lived and have walked to the Yew tree many times to sit under it’s branches. The Yew tree died last summer in a wildfire.

Get out there and be amazed…

Crabapple Bird Feast

North Central Washington. First day of Spring. 6:30 am, 23 degrees F.

“The early bird gets the worm”. In this case its the Robins who get the last of the crabapples. There is not a lot to eat this time of year. Difficult to pull worms out of a frozen ground.

Crabapple Robins

But this crabapple tree is a life source. Just a few weeks ago it was loaded with thousands of tiny crabapples. Now just a few dozen remain. Mostly Robins, but a few Steller Jays and Nutcrackers have picked over the fruit on this tree. Smaller birds such as the Junkos and Sparrows are not attracted to this menu. They go for the birdseed thrown onto the ground.

I picked this one for a taste test.

Crabapple

In the fall these crabapples will pucker up your lips. Now, after a few cycles of freezing and thawing, they are firm and have a slightly sweet taste. Quite edible by my standards.

 

Even as the tree is plucked clean, you can see the new buds emerging. In just a few more weeks the cycle begins again. There will be thousands of beautiful blossoms. Each a future crabapple for next year’s Robin feast.

Crabapple tree May Day 2

Be Amazed…

Flowers in the vase

imageMarch, in like a lion, out like a lamb. So the saying goes and so it rings true most years.

Seattle is a maritime climate, so you can expect periods of seemingly endless days raining grey. Not fifty shades of grey, just grey. If you live elsewhere, especially in the midwest or northeast that grey translates to white this year.

But its easy to add a little color to your life. Buy some tulips, put them in a vase and place them in a prominent location. Whenever you pass by, take a moment to just appreciate the beauty they express.

If you like to sit quietly for a few minutes each day, focus your gaze on one flower. Contemplate the intricate design of that beauty. Maybe you will get some insight into the mystery of that single flower’s creation and that will suffice to help you understand the great mystery of the universe.

Be amazed…

Crocus, purple gold

CrocusAlmost stepped on these little purple nuggets popping out of the leaves.

Crocus flowers are some of the first to bloom in the spring, often emerging long before snow and freezing weather has passed. When warm and sunny the flowers open. At night and if the air is cold the flowers shut tight.

You can tell from the photo just what kind of day I am enjoying. If asked to describe an image of my soul, this little flower open to the sun would suffice.

Experience nature and Be Amazed…