Here in New York, today is Arbor Day. Founded in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton, after he had moved from the heavily forested state of Michigan to the treeless plains of Nebraska, Arbor Day encourages each of us to plant trees, to care for them, and to remember how essential they are in our lives. Over one million trees were planted on that first holiday, and untold billions more since, as Arbor Day is now celebrated all over the world. In the U.S., the national holiday takes place on the last Friday in April; in addition, each state holds its own Arbor Day celebration, with the dates determined by climate and suitability for tree planting.
While I can—and often do—talk about trees all day long, to anyone willing to listen (or unable to escape), today I wanted to share some images that for me speak louder than words. I took these two photos for their symbolic power—the first at Overlook Mountain near Woodstock, New York, at the site of an abandoned 19th century resort; the second at a cemetery along a roadside in Cortland, New York. Each spoke very profoundly to me at the time of the ephemerality of life, and of the role of trees in the endless spiral of birth, death, and renewal on earth.