Arbor Day

illustration by Ruth Mary Hallock
illustration by Ruth Mary Hallock

In April of 1966, the three third grade classes in my elementary school took part in the celebration of Arbor Day. Storrs Grammar School no longer exists, but the building is now called the Audrey P. Beck Municipal Building, serving as the town hall for Mansfield, Connecticut. On the corner of the property, near the junction of South Eagleville Rd. and Storrs Rd., stand three trees which were planted by me and my classmates. A solemn and serious child, this made a big impression on me. Each class had filled a glass jar with notes to the future from each child in the class, and each class planted its glass full of notes deep under the ground with the roots of its tree.

Every time I drive by these three trees, which is every time I go to visit my dad, I think of that day and wonder if those jars will ever be unearthed… Why are certain things remembered so vividly and others so soon forgotten?

Arbor Day as a holiday was created by a man named J. Sterling Morton and was first celebrated on April 10, 1872. It was estimated that a million trees were planted for the occasion, nationwide. I wonder if Earth Day, which got started in 1970, has eclipsed interest in this much older holiday. Certainly we can’t have too many reminders about honoring the lives of our dear friends, the trees.

The Arbor Day Foundation has an interesting history, click here. And suggestions for marking the day, click here.

And here is a wonderful tree post by my friend Kathy: Ditto what the Lorax said.

Happy Arbor Day!

32 thoughts on “Arbor Day”

  1. HI,
    When I was in school our class also planted a couple of trees along the school fence, and they are still there tall and strong, I also think of that day when I pass the old school.

    1. Oh how wonderful, Mags! I wonder how many of our old classmates remember the day our classes planted the trees?

  2. Happy Arbor Day, Barbara! What a lovely post. The Lorax would be throwing his arms around you in delight. Thank you for the link back to my blog. **tree hugs**

    1. Thank you, Kathy! The Lorax and Kathy still speaking for the trees and offering tree hugs to all of us! Your blog post was so refreshing, like a cool, verdant space under the trees. **tree hugs***

  3. That is such a lovely Grade 3 memory!

    When my Mr F was a young lad he sprouted an avocado pit with toothpicks in a peanut butter jar, and the gardener planted it. It’s now a HUGE tree, bigger than the house, and bears wonderful avocados, but as the house is no longer owned by his family we can’t get to pick them.

    1. That’s too bad that you can’t pick the avocados from your husband’s tree, Rosie… 🙁 I’ve seen people starting avocado trees from the pits many times, but yours is the first I’ve heard of that actually got planted and grew into a tree! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Sheryl! Isn’t it wonderful when we plant a tree and then carry in our memories the story behind it?

  4. What a moving and inspiring post. In a way , those notes buried under the tree has flourished as the hopes and dreams of the once little children came true today. I planted a lot of mahogany trees while I was in college and 14 years after, they held me breathless for a moment not only cause they’re huge but because of the memory they hold for me. Have a beautiful day my friend….

    1. Thank you, Island Traveler! Your mahogany trees sound majestic and spirit-filled, the perfect places for your hopes and dreams to anchor… Here’s a quote that makes me think of you, dear friend…
      “To plant trees is to give body and life to one’s dreams of a better world.” ~ Russell Page

    1. Thanks, Paul – I don’t think many younger Americans have heard of Arbor Day, either. I never see it mentioned on the news…

    1. I often wonder if those jars will ever be found and opened, and I wonder if anyone still remembers them even being there. Once in a while I go into the town hall to pick up absentee ballots or pay taxes for my dad and my aunt. It’s an odd feeling walking around in my old school, now repartitioned into offices… Maybe I’ll ask about the jars if they’re not too busy next time I’m in there…

    1. I wish I could remember what I wrote, Joanne! There’s a saying that people won’t remember what you said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. I’m one of those people who remembers how I felt, at the expense of remembering the details of the memory! 🙂

  5. What would we do without trees, indeed! I am fortunate to live in a place fairly densely inhabited by them, and besides playing host to a multitude of birds (and squirrels…) they are an embracing and ever delightful presence!

    What a wonderful story about planting the jars with the trees. A symbol of how human history is joined with theirs. Thanks for the lovely post and image!

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed my little story, Diane! Trees are so amazing, although I live in a little city now, I grew up in the woods and well remember the wonderful energy the trees possessed and shared with me. You’re fortunate to live in a densely wooded area!

  6. Curiously, although arbor was the Latin word for ‘tree,’ the arbor that means ‘a shady resting place in a garden or park’ is an unrelated word that just happened to end up looking the same in English. That second arbor came into English in the Middle Ages as erber, taken from Old French erbier, which meant ‘garden.’ It had come from Old French erbe, which has become English herb.

    1. Thank you, Steve, for sharing the etymology of *arbor* with us – it’s fascinating. You remind me a little of my dad because we were always looking up words and tracing their origins. It was an endless source of curiosity and fodder for conversation to both of us. We did the same thing with surnames, too.

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