I think about trees a lot. Or maybe not a lot. It’s more like I never noticed them at all, and then, a few years ago, I suddenly started noticing them all the time: Planted in deliberate ways in neighborhoods and along secondary roads, growing wildly in parks and forests; dying, thriving, peeling, blooming, balding; ugly, pretty, fat, skinny, short, tall, scrawny, stately. You can tell how old a neighborhood is by how big the trees are. The trees in my neighborhood are taller than the houses now, and this means my suburb is “established” and “mature,” real-estate terms meant to sell old houses to people who want character but can’t afford — or can’t stand — city living.
It’s been one of the hottest and muggiest summers in recent memory, but it’s also been unusually rainy, so the trees and flowers are hanging on. Usually the cheaper oaks and maples are drying out and turning brown by now, but everything is still resplendently green despite the heat. I think that means it’s going to be a really nice autumn.
Anyway, my favorite tree is the willow oak, which grows straight and tall. The individual leaves are small and delicate, but its foliage is pleasingly full. It is a good, solid tree. A noble tree, a tree with dignity. I like sugar maples too, because I think they are the most beautiful in fall, and because one time in upstate New York, I ate syrup tapped from a relative’s sugar maple, and I thought that was pretty cool. But you don’t see them in big quantities this far south. I like dogwoods when they’re blooming — such dainty, elegant trees in their blooming state — but they are otherwise unremarkable to me. I love that myrtles bloom through late summer, and I love seeing their pink, purple or white petals pool around their waxy trunks. But I really don’t like how they look with their tops chopped off (as apparently must be done because they grow so quickly and recklessly).
I don’t like holly trees or silver maples and I hate white pine. I hate how white pine takes over and kills everything in its shadow, and I really wish subdivisions would stop planting them. Its only virtue is that it grows fast, but it usually grows leaning precipitously to one side or halfway dried out. It’s rare to see a good-looking white pine.
That is all. My thoughts on trees.