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Most days my walks take me past many of our friendly neighborhood giants. Trees are uncomplaining witnesses to our comings and goings. Far from being oblivious or uncaring, they offer cover, character, some whimsy, and lots of smiling beauty.
We all know (and are thankful) that in days of sweltering heat, their shade offers relief. And in a sudden thundering downpour, they offer darting refuge. But let’s look closer. Their bark, viewed closely, offers wonderful textures and character. Some tree bark looks rugged, almost chiseled, and strong. Another kind of bark appears curving, ascending, embracing what it protects. Yet other bark seems smooth-skinned, almost shiny, an inviting guest to a garden party.
And who has not seen trees gently swaying in a breeze, laughing in gusts, and dancing wildly in stormy weather. Meanwhile, at the furthest tips of limbs and branches are bright green, playful apical meristems pushing out shoots of new growth to revitalize tree life. Though unseen, part of the whimsy of trees is remembering their roots are laughing as they grow.
Even a short walk along Wake Forest sidewalks offers quick snapshots of some of the diverse and intriguing beauty neighborhood trees display. I am hardly out the door when I look up to see towering loblolly pines lining our streets and yards. Passing by the fun-to-stroll Southeastern campus are large swooping trees that fill space graciously, leaving room for young children to hide underneath and explore the secrets of life inside a tree’s canopy. These trees are richly green, broad leafed and majestic. Walking further I see willow oaks, red maples, grand magnolias and cedars, and a flowering dogwood tree (our state flower).
The town’s Urban Forestry program is a great resource for learning about Wake Forest’s trees, the management plans to care for and preserve our trees, and ways citizens can help safeguard their trees and the town’s urban forest areas. This is important: Trees are a gift, easily enjoyed, needing care, and a treat to young and old — an invaluable living part of our green heritage.