by Dawn W Todd

There is a poem on a sign under a tree in the gardens of Castelo de São Jorge. I haven’t been there, armchair traveler that I am, but I read about it on line.

Before I tell you the poem I want to ask you a question. Why plant trees?

That’s what got me tooling around on-line. I wanted to give you an impressive list of reasons. You know all the usual ones already. In science class we learned that trees are a part of the ecosystem that keeps life going. Trees take carbon dioxide and make oxygen. The carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the oxygen cycle, and the water cycle—we need trees to make it all happen.

If you are a part of the Kruckeberg community, I’ll bet you already know about most of the good things trees do: building soil, soaking up storm water so it doesn’t flood our basements or drag pollutants to Puget Sound, preventing erosion, and providing shade, to give a few specifics. Of course shade feels good on a hot day, but it’s more than that. Trees reduce the urban heat island effect caused by pavement and rooftops. Trees create habitat for the animal life we cherish. Trees do other little things that matter a lot–like blocking unlovely sights.

But this is a new one on me: Did you know that there is a relationship between tree canopy and crime rates? More trees, less crime! I am not making this up. If you don’t believe me you can read about the study here:

Here is the poem I told you about, in English:

Ao Viandante

(To the Person Who Passes Through This Place)

by Veiga Simões

You that pass and raise your arm to me
before you hurt me, look at me well.
I am the heat of your home in the cold winter nights.
I am the friendly shade that you find
when walking under the August sun
And my fruits are appetizing freshness
That satisfy your thirst on the way.
I am the friendly beam of your house, the board of your table
the bed in which you rest and the wood of your boat.
I am handle of your hoe, the door of your dwelling
the wood of your cradle and of your own coffin.
I am the bread of goodness and the flower of beauty.
You that pass, look at me well and do no harm.

Okay, we have to do individual trees a bit of harm before they can become the boards of our table, but the point is well taken. We need trees. Let’s plant some.

We are having our Annual Fall Tree and Shrub Sale October 10th through the 12th. If you need tips on planting, we also offer a planting basics class on Friday, October 10th at 1 p.m. Come and find a tree or shrub you like, and take it home and plant it. Enjoy it, and breathe deep.