At this time of year with longer nights and colder days, we tend to spend more time inside and work on the management side of our jobs.  Planning and communicating about trees is always important, but I propose to you that it is also good to leave that behind and take just a moment to sit back and contemplate and appreciate the finer aspects of our work. Trees can be a source of delight and wonder. I try not to lose sight of the fact that they add so much to my life as I work to provide that experience to others.

Earlier in my career, I had an opportunity to work with an incredible gentleman who was on our city tree board. Ralph instilled a sense of wonder in children by presenting them with a ‘recipe’ for a tree. During the annual 5th grade Arbor Day field trip, he held a big bowl and a spoon in his hand as he stirred up the student’s imaginations. He would pour water into the bowl, grab a handful of soil and stir it into the water, ‘scoop’ in some oxygen, and add some sunlight by lifting the bowl up to the sky. That, he explained, is what trees use to grow. Ralph pointed out the towering ponderosa pines that stood around us. Starting from a tiny seed, they stretched up close to 100 feet tall.  The kids were always impressed. The recipe of course is a simplistic explanation, but it instills in me the wonder and mystery of trees.

As I walk to work in the morning darkness, I look up into a canopy and see stars sparkling in the branches like Christmas lights. I take note of the natural ornaments on trees: fruit and cones tipped in frost. I take a breath and remember what an honor it is to work in a field that helps people experience a better quality of life (remember those social benefits?), and where I am privileged to experience the wonder and delight of trees.

Merry Christmas.

By Linden J. Lampman, program manager, DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program