Long urban sidewalk bordered by trees.

Staying healthy, keeping trees healthy

earth science, biologyPat Hamilton, Director, Climate Change, Energy & the EnvironmentMar 19, 2020

Since getting exercise outdoors during these stressful times is good for mind, body, and spirit, I’ve combined “sheltering in place” with one of my hobbies. First, some context:

I have been fascinated by trees my whole life. They are remarkable living things in so many ways. When I was 13 years old, my dad and I were browsing in a bookstore when I came across a captivating book not about baseball or fishing (although I loved them both) but about how to prune trees. He promptly bought it for me and from then on I avidly assumed responsibility for pruning all of the trees in our suburban yard.

So it pains me when walking to the Kowalski’s Market on Grand Avenue to pass a young boulevard tree planted by City of Saint Paul Forestry in recent years, seeing it in need of pruning and knowing that forestry staff are way too overextended (especially now!) to perform this task as frequently as they would like. Well, I’m now motivated to do something about it!

The image below is of my hand removing a watersprout—a growth shoot originating from the main branch of a tree that tends to have weaker wood than its parent branch, and that if permitted to grow upward will likely end up rubbing and injuring important scaffold branches. One tree done, many more to go.

I need to feel useful while I shelter in place, so I look for opportunities to imagine a better future and make improvements, no matter how small, in the midst of our enormous current emergency. What seeds, physical or metaphorical, are you thinking of planting now in these disconcerting times?