Tree huggers

I believe the term Tree Hugger is used in the pejorative by many of our neighbors. Pairodox is situated in rural Pennsylvania, William Penn’s Woods. The Pennsylvania timber industry operates here and in all (67) counties, producing more than five billion dollars in forest products each year. This is tree country and trees are big business. That being said, those of us who prefer live trees to dead ones are more often than not labeled Tree Huggers. We are teased for believing that living trees have value which exceeds whatever price may be had for them expressed as pieces of dimension lumber. As I drove for morning coffee I listened to a piece which aired as part of a radio program, The Allegheny Front. The story told of a dance troupe from Pittsburgh that was preparing a performance, the focus of which was conservation. The show is entitled Prakriti-Maatrikaa, Mrittikaa, which translates as An Ode to the Mother Goddess and Nature. In part, the performance tells of the Bishnoi (followers of vaishnavism, a branch of hinduism which grants reverence to Vishnu) who protect trees and wildlife as part of their sacred, religious, tradition. It also tells of the Chipko Movement born in the foothills of the high Himalayas. As the primary gatherers of food, fuel, and water, Bishnoi women have always had strong motivation to protect their natural surroundings. As a result of government policies which sought to harvest and sell timber for foreign exchange, the Bishnoi forests were being cut down, ecosystems were becoming increasingly desertified and destabilized, and water quality was suffering. It was in the light of these dire circumstances that groups of courageous women joined hands, literally (Chipko means to clasp), to encircle trees which were being threatened by loggers from the outside. And therein may be found the source, and significance, of the term. I am proud to be a Tree Hugger … and so is Joanna (the image shows her getting close to a Giant Redwood along the Tall Trees Trail, part of the Red Wood National Park in California). I hope that somehow those brave and brilliant woman shown in the first image know that the tradition of Tree Hugging continues in our expressions of respect for and in efforts to preserve those denizens of deep-time … trees.

23 thoughts on “Tree huggers

  1. Trees are certainly worth preserving. I remember our trip to the Muir Woods near SF and those redwoods were amazing in their size and presence. There was such a calm as we walked through the woods. Magnificent species. Thank goodness for people like you who fight to preserve what nature has given us.

  2. I love both these photos … the old black and white one shows such emotion on the women’s faces … and of course Joanna looks gorgeous 🙂 I am happy to be a tree hugger … tree hugger and proud! The way Scotland’s natural woods have been exploited over the millennia leaves me sad, but hopeful for the renewed interest in saving the remaining fragments of ancient woodland scattered across the land.

    • I have said elsewhere that all we can do is to lead by example. Perhaps the next generation will wake up and take notice … especially if we have taught them well. Thanks for checking in today Seonaid. D

  3. Nothing surprises me any more … well, with some reservation regarding a too general statement. But the lack of respect for most of nature that is prevalent in some corners these days is stupefying. It’s as though what little knowledge some folks have attained about where the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat comes from is just a bunch of malarkey. But then science in all respects is scorned by some. More and more, the desire for profit rules and many of those who do not receive the profit are not able to grok the losses they are suffering as a result. Anyway, if there is a card for tree huggers I will gladly wear it on the pocket of my shirt. Hmmm, I wonder if there are tree hugger Ts and caps. Maybe we could get The Boss to change the name of his group to Bruce Springsteen and the Tree Huggers Band. There are a group of videos that, if nothing else, are enjoyable to those of us who appreciate nature and ecology. Mostly being watched by us in the choir though

    • I hadn’t seen the Julia Roberts (Mother Nature) video before. Cool. True. But, alas, not understood by many. And lots who understand simply chose to ignore (for the reasons you point out). What’s a Tree Hugger to do? I’ll tell you what we can do, individually. And, that is to lead by example. It’s the only way to motivate change … but it takes an awfully long time. D

      • One way I try to lead by example is pointing out that I will not cause harm to my subjects while photographing them. I may hold a branch or stem to the side … either by hand or with a fallen branch, plamp or other device, but I always make sure they are not harmed and can spring back where they belong. No digging things up, no cooling or freezing insects. The subject’s well-being is always more important than the photograph. The only time I will remove something from a scene is if it is a beer can … hopefully without a slug dwelling inside. 🙂 Regarding the video … I sometimes think such are often just naturalist’s porn. That’s what I meant by the choir. The pessimist in me figures that most videos and programs like Nature and the Attenborough films are watched by nature lovers and not by many captains of industry. Have I ever mentioned Silent Running to you? Sometimes I think that is truly the future for Earth as long as humans are present here. I look at the potential undoing of protections for the environment that the incoming Congress and Senate have placed at the top of their agenda and am truly horrified at what harm they are about to wreak upon the environment and our health. It’s a good thing my hair is not as long as it once was or it would be torn loose from my scalp.

        • I very much empathize. Living in Pennsylvania has been difficult for Joanna and me for so many reasons. That which is currently on the front burner is, of course, the hydraulic fracking industry. No end of frustration. It’s amazing what, together, money and political position can do. The industry is just one reason we hope to be moving north and east in the near future. It’s not that other states don’t have their difficulties, it just seems like PA has more than its share. With regard to the first part of your comment … I think it is fair to say that I do more damage to myself and my clothing than I have ever done to one of my subjects or its immediate environs! By the way … 72F in the kitchen and 75F in the living room … gotta love it! D

          • 75°! We won’t see that unless we crank the wood stove all day while we are roasting the turkey. We keep our stove in the basement, so it doesn’t really get the house too warm. I wouldn’t mind 75° some days, but at night that would be way too warm … especially with a beagle to keep things at “One Dog Night” levels. 🙂 It is very distressing that money has become so influential. It always has been, but I think we are approaching an era that will reflect the gilded age years. It just amazes me that so many people accept the arguments that support allowing industry and corporations to basically make policy in this country. All anyone needs to do is claim that a particular program is socialist and folks go crazy in opposition … whether an accurate portrayal or not. Yeah, come on up. We have our own share of illogic and contrariness but, for the most part, we all get along.

            • There is no heat on the second floor. Vents in the living room and kitchen ceilings heat the bedrooms upstairs via convection. Once we load and damp down the big stove the living room will simmer at about 68-70F all night … making for sleeping between 65-68F … pretty comfortable. The kitchen runs about the same. Both stoves run 8 hours but can still be coaxed back to life after 9 hours. That limits our ability to travel in the winter months. Truth-be-told … we couldn’t get homeowners insurance without some ‘permanent’ heat source … so, there’s a propane furnace in the basement which hasn’t ignited since my Dad passed away more than five years ago now! Bottom line is that you gotta love that wood heat. D

              • Same for our stove regarding lasting over night. I can usually get the coals to ignite small splits in the am and, occasionally, skip the am and still get them to burn some kindling to start. Our house came with electric baseboard heat and an insulated basement ceiling. After burning wood for 18 years, we installed oil heat as a backup and insurance against my aging inability to split and haul wood. Then oil skyrocketed and we don’t use that or the electric … aside from the oil heating our hot water. But it may help with the resale price when the time comes. When we lost electricity for a week a few Halloweens back, the stove kept us warm and cooked our food.

  4. Archaeological evidence indicates the presence of Norse settlers in NL, likely led by Leif Erikson, as far back as around AD1000. In all likelihood the chief commodity that sustained the settlements was timber–timber for masts, ribs and planks for boats and, of course, firewood. Historically the vast softwood reserves from here have been utilized by the English and, to a lesser extent, the French. When I was a boy, in fact, the softwood industry dwarfed all others here, including mining and fishing which are by no means trivial pursuits. There’s been constant disagreement on regulation and conservation, but, despite this, the timber stands are still relatively strong. Alas that cannot be said about the industry. Our black spruce, once highly prized as a chief component in paper making is no longer as valuable as it once was. Stands take around 70 years to mature here and have been harvested in a manner that is generally safe, sustainable and fairly well-paying for those who work it. These days, though, much paper is made in China using cheap labor, unsafe unregulated practices and is based on easily grown bamboo. We’ve lost two out of three major paper mills in recent history and the third is just hanging on. Too bad. It was generally a very good thing. Still–the trees remain and flourish. The land is unsullied and truly beautiful. I comfort myself in the knowledge that all things are cyclical and that the demand for our softwoods will return soon, stronger than ever. When it does I remain hopeful that our collective love of this place will trump our thirst for financial growth.
    Loved your post and pictures, as always.

    • Your review of recent NL history reminds me that Joanna reported the other day that the entire New England cod fishery (from Massachusetts to the Canadian boarder) has been shut down until spring. The economics of NL fishing through the years has been a topic of yours in the past. It would seem that this history is repeating itself ‘down south.’ When will people learn that finite means finite. When will people learn that nonrenewable means nonrenewable? I believe I have been the one to observe that humans, as a species, are maladapted. I believe, in the current light, that that remains true. We are greedy. We can’t self-regulate (or self-govern) very well. And we don’t seem to be able to equate our actions with the consequences of those actions. We’re not very bright, are we? But, as you say, the sun will come out tomorrow and, for now at least, we are able to Eat, Pray, and Love. D

  5. Thanks for sharing such interesting history! Yes, ‘tree hugging’ might be used in a derogatory way. But even worse – I feel it is being misused and twisted in what I call management training fads. There seems to be a trend in rediscovering ‘ancient wisdom’, especially ‘simple living’, and it has been incorporated in ‘outdoor trainings’, albeit in a distorted way. I try to keep my sarcasm about such soft skills and management trainings at bay (though I feel entitled to it, from first hand experience). But what remains is that ‘getting in touch with nature’, ‘feel the true [whatever]’ is centered around humans’ well-being and their first-world problems (as a former nearly burnt-out corporate office worker with lots of those first world problems I feel entitled to that opinion, too). Your post reminds us that this was originally triggered by truly existential problems.

    • Indeed, just last winter I came across a study that examined people after walking in the woods and in the city. In general, those who walked in the woods were better off both physically and emotionally. As for me, I just love breathing deeply of the scents of the forest 🙂

      • Yes. It is just so disturbing that it seems to take ‘motivational speakers’ and expensive ‘trainings’ and pop-psych literature to remind people of things this simple. I can also remember these articles, or perhaps similar ones, but it struck me as extremely odd that we need ‘research’ for that (say the taxpayer in me who cringes at governmentally funded studies less weird…).

        • See my response to Maurice’s … why doesn’t anyone realize that, among us, we three have ALL the answers? We’re a global treasure … and no one knows it but us! D

      • When will folks getting around, in the absence of the talking-heads or trendy dietary or exercise fads, what’s good for them? Both your comment here and Elke’s have made me realize what a truly frustrating world we live in. Ah well. I’ve always said that the world would be a very boring place indeed if everyone were like me … it takes lots of folks to make a world … more than 7 billion of them, in fact. D

    • Yes … getting in touch with nature seems to be the corporate thing-to-do these days. I am sorry you had to experience it. Thankfully, college professors are not required to get in touch with nature in that same way. And, yes, I agree that it is unfortunate that such (first-world) programs (dealing with problems of the first-world work place) of have lost touch, entirely, of what getting in touch with nature is supposed to be about. The world is a frustrating place to live – isn’t it? D

      • I did want to be too negative – I have a rule of not trying not too complain about things unless I had proven I am able to take action and make a change (one of the other corporate things I didn’t like was hearing the same first world complaints by the same people again and again who never changed anything though). On the other hand I don’t want to criticize without experience – so I might often criticize things I have resolved for myself.
        It’s not that such trainings were the prime reason I am not a corporate employee anymore but they were annoying – I think this is pseudo-psychological treatment for people who have not asked for that. But it is also possible to subvert such trainings as an attendee if you have enough like-minded geeky colleagues who drive the psycho babble trainer crazy by trying to puncture his theories using logic ;->

        • Good for you! I can just see you trying to find logical pathways around the arguments of those trying to push you in one direction or another! Sounds like fun. D

Respond to this post if you'd like.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: