Tree Huggers Gallery

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Send me your photos of people hugging trees and I’ll put them up here for the world to see. Celebrate the trees!

Memoirs of a tree hugger

For a couple of months before I retired, I worked with Chester. I was his PEO. He was my CO. I say we became friends. He might disagree. Chester’s an NRA mucky-muck, a hunter and shooter. One time I was talking about “people like us,” and he said “Peter, you and I are nothing alike!” He lives with one foot in the old west, where a man’s only friend is his old forty-four. But instead of telling me to get out and check my equipment, he would tell me to hurry back from my round so we could continue the conversation.

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He used to call me a “tree hugging nature nazi,” and I always got a kick out of it. I didn’t take it as a put-down, but as a term of recognition, perhaps laced with affection.

One day I asked him: “Chester, tell me the truth. You’ve spent a bit of time up in the high country of the west. Can you honestly tell me that you never hugged a tree? Even one of those beautiful big old Ponderosa pines that smell so sweetly of vanilla? Never?”

He thought for a minute; I knew he knew what I meant. “Well,” he admitted, “I once fondled a Bristlecone pine.”

THAT CONVERSATION came back to me as I was hiking recently on Mt. San Bernardino in the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area. This is in the highest of the three great ranges that pretty much ring the Greater Los Angeles megacity. The big old trees of the high country are something special. When I am in their presence, when I walk among them, I feel connected to the earth.

“You’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen them all” is a particularly inane comment attributed to Ronald Reagan. To cut these old giants for pulp or lumber is a terrible waste of an irreplaceable resource.

Most of the world’s old growth forest has been destroyed in this century. We should stop now so our children and their children will be able to walk in the wild old forest.

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