Yesterday I took my abridged (but including tree kibbles) tree planting kit to Loma Vista Park and met the crew busy digging a really big hole for a really big Hedge Maple. This tree doesn’t honor any person, group or event; this Susie tree is testing the neighborhood. In years past there has been a lot of vandalism of young trees and Urban Forestry has been hesitant to keep planting. We decided to find out if a fully tree-grammed Susie tree would turn tree vandals into tree lovers. And I know if something happens to this tree it will hurt only me and not someone I want to give happiness or comfort to. I drew and wrote and quoted and strung a dozen tree-grams to hang in this brave tree and then painted a stone to place at its roots. One of the arborists lives close by and will walk his dog by the park and keep a close watch on it. If this experiment works we have more plans for this park. Go, Susie tree, go!
This is a tall tree, in fact, as tall as the line of trees it is now a part of. Those trees were planted 30 years ago and I asked if they were a smaller type of tree. The answer was no. They were improperly planted too deep and have never reached their potential. I’ve often told people not to plant too deep and now I can seen the consequences.
Since I have more than 200 stones to paint I try to do a few every day. I was talking to a friend who watched me paint on Monday and she said she would fool around with ideas until she found a design she liked and then she would get them done assembly line style. Not me. Every stone will be different, although I might make some with similar ideas. I like to look at each stone and see where the heart is and then paint it. I couldn’t do the same design over and over again. Henry Ford wouldn’t agree but I’ll have a fun time. And since I’ll never stop planting trees I’ll never stop designing.
After the tree planting I went to the Shadle Library and let the manager choose which stones she wanted me to place by the two library trees. That was fun and then I walked into the park to look for the the three trees that are planted there. I found the first right off and gave it a stone. As I headed down the pathway I saw three trees that could be the second one I was looking for, so I searched through the lower branches for signs of tree-gram holding twine. No luck. I think I’ll give the stone to the family and let them place it. But I do need to figure out which tree it is. I couldn’t find the last. I planted it for a Shadle High ecology student and I feel sure we planted it further away from the play area than the only tree that was a candidate. The school made renovations to their playfields and there might have been some tree removals. I’ll have to find out.
There are, as of yesterday, 223 individual Susie Forest trees and three groves in the city of Spokane. Some I see and check on often and some are in areas I don’t visit on a regular basis. Placing the stones will take me back to some of these. I hope I can find them all.
I love how the people who come to tree plantings give me ideas for the
Susie Forest dedications and Saturday I loved how a man there put one of the pieces of the dedication into perspective. After I told the story of the painted stones he came up and asked some questions. “Yes,” I said, “I pick up a stone at one tree planting, paint a heart on it and place by the roots of another tree.” “Mmm, he mused, “a thread . . .” “Aha,” I thought and didn’t hear anything else he said.
That “thread” ran through my head all day and then I put it into a sentence: the stones are a thread that weaves the individual Susie trees into the Susie Forest.
But now I have a problem. I have to connect that thread through the trees, at least in Spokane and that means 222 stones – so far. I began picking up stones at the plantings a few years ago and putting them in a little garden area behind the apartment house and when that filled up on the counter in the kitchen. That started looking kind of silly so I stopped picking up stones. Now that I need stones I’ve started picking up two at a time.
I thought of threads at tree plantings today. A Japanese Pagoda was planted as a retirement tree for Sally, the wonderful leader at the Finch Arboretum. She has helped me get trees planted there and has come out to other parks to help plant Susie trees. She was there in Stone Park digging the hole in a March 21st blizzard a few years ago helping to plant an anniversary tree. I hope she will see this tree as a thread connecting all those trees and will help keep us connected during our retirements.
The second tree, a hedge maple,went into Audubon Park but the dedication will be held later. This tree is for Ellen, a great gal that I worked with at the library. This tree is a thread connecting the times we spent working together, enjoying the symphony together and even walking a couple of Volkswalks. Most importantly this tree weaves us together as mothers who have lost adult children. I hope this tree helps her as all the trees have saved me.
I sit here looking at that pile of stones. Time to get out the paint and brushes.
There were some disappointments this week. I waited all week to hear from Walla Walla about a tree that was going to be planted on Earth Day by a group of Americorps workers. When I couldn’t stand it any more I emailed and the answer came back that they hadn’t planted an individual tree but more than 100 seedlings. I decided to ask if they wanted to count all those tiny trees as a grove. I already have three groves in Spokane, so why not one in Walla Walla. I’m awaiting an answer and I’m hoping I won’t be disappointed.
I was working with a really nice lady who wanted to plant a tree in Camp Caro to honor her father this weekend. And sadly that hasn’t worked out for this spring. We both have hopes that it will happen sometime in the future. And then the disappointment will be over for both of us.
Luckily there were only two disappointments so this is a short blog. Oh, there’s another one. Today I walked along the river into Riverfront Park and looked at the Susie Grove we planted for the tenth anniversary of Susie’s death. Some of those Ponderosas look so bad and some close to death. But, they will be replaced and the the disappoint ment will be gone. Don’t be disappointed in this picture.
Sarah Bain introduced me to her class on Monday by telling them I was her favorite philanthropist “by far”. I never think of myself as a philanthropist but as a survivalist. I feel so lucky to have a way to live without Susie, a way that respects her and is an expression of her joyful enthusiasm.
I guess I know in a way that I’m a philanthropist when I take that tax deduction for each tree donation but I think of that money as paying for a gift. And it is a gift to so many. I get the deduction because each $300 is a gift to Urban Forestry’s fund at The Lands Council. But it goes beyond that. First of all, it is a gift to me and Susie’s family. It is a gift of remembrance or comfort or celebration to those I give the tree to. It is a gift of a party to those who attend the planting. It is a gift of beauty to the city. And it is a gift of shade and clean air to the future. So many gifts from one donation.
And I push philanthropy. I can’t help but sell the idea of planting trees. My son says that I can find a really good and original reason why anyone should plant a tree. And I love helping people who want to plant a tree. I want to make every tree meaningful.
I guess that I am a philanthropist.
Arbor Day is always a fun day, talking to the people who come to the festival, visiting with the tree people I haven’t seen for a while, and planting a tree.
I manned the Urban Forestry table for most of the time and of course I talked most of the time about the Susie Forest. I don’t think I talked any of the attendees into planting a tree, however, I may have gotten some tree people to think about some personal trees.
The Arbor Day Tree this year was a Japanese Tree Lilac and we had a special shoveler, Aqua Duck from the Spokane Aquifer Joint Board. Mayor Condon came with his children and they (especially the children) did lots of shoveling. This was tree #219 in Spokane.
I walked around looking at all the booths and bought three tickets to tree drawings sponsored by the Finch Arboretum Conservators. Last year I bought a ticket and there were so few entries that I felt sure that I would be a winner. NOT! And this year? I won THREE trees!
When they called my name for the first tree I had to find the arborist Jeff Perry to choose the tree because it is going to the Urban Forestry nursery. He chose the mountain maple and went back to what he was doing. He had to be called back to choose the limber pine and the yew. Once they do some growing they will be planted in the Susie Forest.
Lots of tree stuff going on this week. Some were scheduled and some were surprises.
The tree at the Library Foundation didn’t bring as much money as I had hoped, but – the winner is a FUN co-worker from the library and it will be a real FUN tree planting. I can’t wait to hear where and how he wants to put his tree in the ground.
On Sunday Jack and I went over to Westgate Park so that Jack could see the two trees we planted on Susie’s birthday. Barbara Anderson had prepared a picture and information about her astronaut son Michael, but it was too large for the laminating material I had brought and I promised I would fix and hang it on our trip to the trees. It was a large piece of paper and so I reduced it so it would hang better and still be readable. While at Susie’s tree I noticed a family walking from the play area to their car and the mother stopped at Michael’s tree and looked quizzically at the tree-grams. So, of course, I started telling her about the tree. “Oh,” she said, “I sang at Michael and Sandra’s wedding.” They will be moving to the neighborhood soon and I told them to watch out for the tree. Sometimes you’re meant to be in a certain place at a certain time.
This was not supposed to be a surprise but I was surprised when I looked at my calendar Sunday night and found that I was scheduled to speak at Sarah Blain’s philanthropy class Monday night. Whew! I had enough cookies. It was a great evening just like it was last year and like last year I was pushing for a tree at Whitworth. After all it’s a philanthropy class and it would be an act of philanthropy to plant a tree on campus. What was the most interesting question? Do you sell the cookies?
Tuesday morning brought a heartwarming surprise. As I was reading the newspaper the iPad dinged and so I dropped the paper and picked it up and there was an email from the Great Rivers Greenway in St Louis. This was one of the groups that helped me get Susie’s birthday tree planted in the National Park by the Gateway Arch in 2011. At the ceremony I talked about the number of trees in different cities and someone said that they could outplant Chicago and Portland. Well, as of Friday, St Louis will have five trees, Chicago four, and Portland three. There will be a ribbon cutting for the Centennial Greenway and because it’s Arbor Day they will plant four trees dedicated to the four cities connected by the trail – and to Susie who lost her life there. I sent a copy of the front and back of the bookmark so they would have some info about her.
Here’s a link to their blog which quotes my answer to their query:
This is a big auction month for the Susie Forest. I donated trees for the auctions of three great local organizations. Last Saturday after spending 3 1/2 hours selling the Bicycle Alliance at the Spokane Bike Swap I headed for The Lands Council auction downtown at the Doubletree Hotel. I got to stand by the display for the Susie Tree and try to sell it. I had a fun evening talking to lots of people. Two placed bids and several promised to come back toward closing time. Nobody did and The Lands Council didn’t get as much money as I would have liked, but the winner was a member of City Council and maybe we can get some good attention from the planting.
Now I’m working on the display for the Library Foundation auction Saturday night. They close the library, bring in a band and food and lots of fun people. All the “SHHH!!” signs are turned to the wall and everybody lets loose. I won’t be there selling so I hope someone lets loose a lot of money for a planting. I’m pushing the planting as a way to thank the forest for all the books you’ve read.
On Monday I’ll pick up the display at the library and rework it for the Spokane Preservation Advocates auction on the 27th. This group loves the big, beautiful, old street trees and were backers of the new Heritage Tree ordinance which honors significant city trees, so I’m advertising this auction item as a way to plant a Heritage Tree of the future.
So if you’re going to one of these auctions look for my display and bid a lot for the tree. I’ll bring cookies to the planting and we’ll have a great time.