New Year’s resolutions came a little slowly for me this year. 2023 started, and there were some thoughts and ideas about what I would like to see in the upcoming year: being more generous with my time, enjoying the little things, taking on some long ridiculous endurance challenge. These are good thoughts, but nothing really stood out as a goal for 2023 that I could get excited about.
When I want to take a long time to think on something, I find it can be helpful to go for a long run. Let a few hours slip away watching the world go by at a slow running pace, and I could either find my goals for the upcoming year, or be too tired to care.
While running through the woods, admiring trees, pondering their age, a thought hit me – If I planted a tree today, I wouldn’t be alive to see it grow to this size.
I’m old, never mind my specific age. I’m not “retirement old,” but I am grey-haired and “joints that ache when it’s going to rain” kind of old.
I won’t get to see any tree I plant be as old as the beech woods that I found myself running in. From here on out, any shade tree I plant will be for younger and future generations. I may be able to enjoy watching the tree reach a young adult status, but it will not be a stately shade tree until after I am gone. Planting a shade tree is a ridiculously forward thinking act at my age, especially in this era of instant gratification. Planting a tree now so that somebody can enjoy the benefits of it 60-80 years in the future is an absurd act of selflessness and optimism. Now that sounds like a New Year’s resolution I can get excited about!
This year, and hopefully many more future years, I will plant, and care for, at least one native shade tree. A few of these trees may be planted in my own yard for a future homeowner that I will most likely never know. I can join some volunteer plantings, and maybe plant some trees for friends. I will plant at least one tree a year for as long as I am able. Some of these trees won’t ever become the large beautiful tree that I am hoping for. Maybe a few of them will. I hope that after I am gone, somebody may stop and admire a tree that I put in the ground.
Happy 2023! For me, this is the year of the shovel.