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April 28, 2000

Arbor Day

Today is Arbor Day, another worthy holiday, but not a Traditional one. The idea is to plant trees. That such a day is necessary is indicative of our alienation from the landscape, as well as our desire to control it. Today the Parks Department is planting new American Chestnut trees in Central Park. The strain is said to be blight resistant; the result of decades of horticultural effort. If they do indeed survive to reach maturity, they will be simultaneously nostalgic and exotic. Few of us have encountered a full grown Chestnut, though they were a familiar presence at the beginning of the last century. Their reintroduction bespeaks a desire to return the land to its "natural" state, but it will create an unknown grove, strange to those who have grown up absent the species.

There is a magic to the trees, that they are such a nexus; looking both forward and behind. Always they remind us of a past we cannot revisit. But to plant a tree is a gesture towards the future, and one meant to outlive us. They put us in perspective.

Here are a few of mine.

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