When the tornado warning sounded near my home last night I found I couldn't get a view of what might come through the trees.
I have elm trees, oak trees, dogwood trees, sweet gum and a huge sugar magnolia, one of the few trees that has survived the age of the dinosaurs.
It's a 50 x 100 lot.
The fact is most people in eastern North America live in a forest, and that forest is growing denser. A week ago I waited among the skyscrapers for the 36th running of the Peachtree Road Race and marveled at a line of 70-foot giants which had sprung up in front of a nearby hotel. When sidewalks here are rebuilt, holes are now generally cut for new trees. This wasn't the case when I moved here in the 1980s.
From Georgia up to Maine, and west as far as Ohio the the Ozarks, most of the eastern U.S. today is forested. It doesn't entirely make up for the destruction going on in the Amazon and in Africa, in Indonesia and in Vietnam, but it is positive progress. And as those areas become more economically fruitful, I predict, trees will multiply there.
Unlike mammalian predators, trees can live among people. I pity the neighbors who are afraid of trees, afraid they'll fall on them in the night. Regular check-ups from an arborist (like Peter Jenkins, left) should keep that from happening. If you see new branches springing out low on a tall tree near you, call one right away.
One great sadness of my life is that I have never seen the greatest tree of them all, the American chestnut. In the 19th century it was said a squirrel could travel from Maine to Georgia without reaching the ground, simply using the canopies of these 90 foot monsters. They were killed by a chestnut blight, but there are people now working to restore these beauties, and I wish them well.
If you really want to know how your town gets along with the Earth, then look up. If you're not in a desert, or a prairie, if there are native trees growing outside of town, there should be some above your head right now. Don't worry about the WiFi -- we can deal with it.
You don't need to go to Brazil, or to the redwoods, to be a tree hugger. Do it where you live.