Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy Arbor Day

The trees are slowly leafing out here in central Illinois, perfect timing for the national observance of Arbor Day.

One of my favorite spring flowering trees is the redbud. We had been living in this house for about eight months when one spring morning, while I was sitting on the front porch drinking coffee and trying to erase the cobwebs of sleep from my brain, I looked up and saw these pinkish-purple blossoms on the tree near the porch. I was ecstatic! I had no idea we had a redbud tree until the blossoms emerged. Not only that, as I walked around the house, I discovered we had not one, but two redbuds!

Certainly there are prettier blossoming trees, but I like the airy jolt of bright color it provides among the pastel hues of showier flowering trees. It is also usually one of the first to bloom, making it one of the first true signs of spring to me. I'm always a little sad when the purple blossoms change to green leaves; it's not that magnificent of a tree then. But since my redbud also holds my hummingbird feeder, this tree gets a lot of attention from me all summer long.

Coconut enjoys bird watching from his vantage point under the redbud.

I have been busy all week; I'd like to say it's because I've been outside planting and digging. But I'm afraid that hasn't been the case. In between several days of subsitute teaching, I have been cleaning, cleaning, and de-cluttering, trying to make my house spotless (well, presentable is a better word) for a get-together at my house tonight. My guests will be a group of old friends, teaching colleagues for more than 30 years. We meet for lunch on a semi-regular basis, but our favorite time is our annual celebration of Arbor Day.

Arbor Day is actually a much older holiday than Earth Day. A Nebraskan, who thought his treeless state needed some trees planted, first came up with the idea in the 1800's. The idea spread to other states, and in 1872 the fourth Friday in April was proclaimed as National Arbor Day. Other countries also observe Arbor Day, although in many countries, as well as some states in the US, the date may be different to coincide with the best tree-planting time.

Before you begin to admire my friends and me as true nature lovers, our motives for celebrating this day are far from noble. I'm not sure when our annual tradition began, at least 25 years ago, but its beginnings were pretty mundane. I think we were having one of our occasional TGIF gatherings when people started toasting. Running out of ideas for a toast, someone looked at their calendar, looking for a holiday, and made a toast to Arbor Day. From these humble beginnings our annual tradition began.

Over the years our celebrations have ranged from impromtu get-togethers to more elaborate affairs, complete with T-shirts and yes, even planting a tree. This year I've made a tag for each person to wear with their favorite tree on it. Beyond that, I'm not sure what we will do to honor Arbor Day. But I do know we'll toast some trees, tell a lot of old stories, and laugh hysterically as we remember all the good times we've had.

I'll tell you all about it in a couple of days...


  1. All trees are beautiful Rose, with or without blossom. Love your tree. Happy arbor day to you and your friends, have a really wonderful time. Our homes do not need to be spotlessly clean, its the people that live in them that count.

  2. Thanks, Cheryl. You are right, of course, about our homes not needing to be spotless. But it's the perfectionist in me coming out again. When I know someone is coming over, especially if they've never been here, I suddenly notice the spots on the carpet or the pile of old magazines on the coffee table that never bothered me before. House cleaning has never been one of my favorite chores; sometimes it takes "company" to get me motivated.

  3. I think it's a wonderful thing to gather with friends and celebrate Arbor Day! Love the photo of the trees and kitty. :)

  4. You're right,Nancy. Arbor Day or Fourth of July, it's more fun to celebrate with friends. By the way, that isn't a kitty in the photo. Coconut, my daughter's Pomeranian, just got a very short summer haircut. Now that you mention it, he does look a lot like our white cat Toby. :)

  5. Hey...I have a white cat, Toby. :-)

    Sorry about the confusion...don't tell the dog!

  6. I hope you have a fantastic evening with your friends. There's really nothing better! Happy Arbor day to all of you.
    I can't believe you found time to blog before they came, you are truely addicted!!!
    Beautiful tree by the way.

  7. I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time! You realize of course by telling how long you taught you're giving away our age. I noticed the redbuds were just starting to bloom today and thought of you. Raise a glass to Arbor Day for me!

  8. how wonderful! I didn't know about arbor day ... that's really interesting, I shall mark it in my diary for next year :-)

    love those redbud trees, they make me think of the sunrise with those beautiful colours :-)

    hope you had a good time at your get-together

  9. Dear Rose,
    I enjoyed the story of how you and your friends began to celebrate Arbor Day! How fun!
    The Redbud is one of my favorite trees. The leaves are heart shaped!
    I have one on the corner of my corner lot. It is in a heart shaped bed my husband put in as a surprise for me.
    My first Red Bud was a tiny sapling I was given on Arbor Day many, many years ago. It grew into a fine young tree. It was uprooted in a wind storm. When we replanted we went with another Red Bud. This time we planted a large tree from a nursery so I did not have to wait so long for a mature tree. To my amazement my new Red Bud is a female! She has seed pods each Autumn!
    Our gardens hold the stories of our lives.
    Thank you for introducing yourself to me.
    Looking forward to coming back with a cup of tea and reading your journal and getting to know you.

  10. Rose, I love redbuds, and planted one in the front yard at my last house. I have to drive by there at least once each spring while the redbud is blooming.

    I think they have lovely heart-shaped leaves, and I like that they stay relatively small. I think they're pretty even after they leaf out.

    I bought my first hummingbird feeder yesterday. We get hummers in the garden, and I'm hoping to attract more and to see them more often with the feeder. Do you think it's too early to put a glass feeder outside?

  11. Nancy, I remember now seeing on your blog that you also have a cat named Toby. What a coincidence, although I didn't give him his name. My Toby is on a couple earlier posts of mine, and no doubt he'll be on more in the future (when he wakes up from one of his many naps, that is).

    Suburbia, Yes, I think I am addicted to this. I have to take occasional breaks from housework, and I always find myself back on the computer then.

    Beckie, You know me--I had a cup of coffee for you!

    Hedgewitch, Thanks for stopping by. I had forgotten your blogname until the other day; I'll be back to visit again!

  12. q, Thanks for stopping by! I have no idea whether my redbud is a male or female, but I don't think it has seed pods in the fall. I had forgotten about the heart-shaped leaves; I'll have to check those out later.

    Garden Girl, Yesterday I had to drive past my old house to see my magnolia tree in full bloom--I miss it, too.
    As to the hummingbirds, my feeder is a glass one, so as long as it doesn't freeze too hard, I don't think it's a problem. Last week was so warm here I thought, well, maybe they will be early. All the nectar I put in disappeared, but I don't think it was the hummingbirds out--I think the wind blew so hard, all the nectar sloshed out! I'm not very knowledgable about birds, but I just love to watch the hummingbirds.


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