Trees help liven up the place

Published 8:39 am Wednesday, February 16, 2022

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Trees sometimes get a bad rap.

They provide oxygen; give your shade on a hot day. During the fall, they make an ordinary drive through a neighborhood absolutely stunning.
But they grow, sometimes bigger than people planned. Their roots can mess up sidewalks. They get infected with diseases and insects. Their branches sometimes grow and mess with overhead powerlines.

It’s those trees — the ones that disrupt power and internet services — that seem to have the worst reputation. As a journalist for more years than

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I’d care to admit, I’ve written many stories about how government entities hire tree pruning companies to clear limbs from around their power lines.

These trees look like they got their heads chopped off, or worse, they become trunks with no limbs.

Edenton, a North Carolina town with a population of about 5,000, used to have festivals celebrating its beautiful crepe myrtles. These trees bloom flower clusters in white and vivid fuschia and pink. On rainy or windy days, the streets are sometimes covered with petals.

They stopped having the festival a few decades ago. The trees that lined the town’s streets so proudly are now routinely trimmed down to almost unrecognizable forms. They’re resilient buggers though. Every year, little branches re-emerge from the trunks to bloom again.

Trees can be a touchy subject. There are some trees that bloom in the spring and stink up the place. Some have fruits that ripen and fall on passersby’s heads as they walk.

Some, like cherry trees in Washington, D.C., are just breathtaking.

Many cities and towns have a committee that deals with the trees in their neighborhoods. They approve the planting of native trees, organize Arbor Day celebrations and notify officials about which trees pose a hazard to the community.

In that North Carolina town, there are trees that have grown around metal that has been there since the Colonial era. There are cypress trees that osprey and bald eagles call home. They liven up the place.

In Starkville, Mississippi, trees line parts of Main Street, but at a certain point they are replaced with big planters that have sides painted by local artists. These planters are filled with seasonal blooms and greenery. They liven up the place too.

Some trees in downtown Starkville have a color-changing LED light placed at their bases. The library changes the colors to match holidays — red and green for Christmas, green and purple for Mardi Gras, etc. The town just paints its trees with all the colors that change every few minutes or so at night. It’s pretty cool to watch. Those lights liven up the place.

Trees are home to wildlife. They are the shade on a hot day. Trees can be a landmark — take a left at the big oak tree. They are an unmoving participant in an energetic game of hide and seek. In short, they help liven up our lives.

I understand the need for moving or trimming trees to properly maintain infrastructure. I can also see the counterargument for just leaving them be. We have to coexist with nature and find a compromise so we can enjoy the amenities of civilization and the richness of Kentucky’s beauty.

When they work together, each livens up the place we call home.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week.

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