Wednesday, December 26, 2012



I've been far too lax lately to really appreciate the trees for the woods, or rather, the trees for the hubbub of modern living, viewing but not seeing anything that has a meaningful degree of depth. Maybe, it's because trees have just shed their leaves so now their silhouettes just pop out which composes the skyline.

When you have some time to spare drive along Hanover Street in Pottstown and take a look for yourself beginning down at the Hanover Street Bridge at the Schuylkill River. Just a short way west on College Drive at the pedestrian crossover look right to the north and see a silhouette of a huge American Elm tree growing on the bank of the spillway which used to carry water to the old Roller Mill building when it was still grinding grain into flower. This Elm, when you calculate its age by the diameter of the girth of its trunk is quite old, which is remarkable since most Elms died off years ago due to the Dutch Elm Disease. You could say, "this old giant is some tough bird".

Drive further north up Hanover and you'll cross High, King, and Chestnut Streets to, on the right hand side, in the raised lawn area between Zion's Church and Emanuel Lutheran Church two fairly large shade trees are growing. The more memorable one, an Oak, has a well formed canopy that compliments with its spread the area it shades. This area for years has been the focal point for lawn parties especially for musical programs these churches put on. A shaded lawn area becomes outdoor living space at its very best in an earthly attempt to bring civility back into civilization.

Travel again north on Hanover for about two and a half more blocks to where Hanover goes down a grade after Beech Street and begins a gentle curve to the east at East Third Street. There, smack in front of you, on the left hand side of Hanover, are two large trees : one's, another Elm ; the other's, an Oak, both living together in this small front yard for a long, long time. These two notable trees were probably planted at same time very long ago, most likely, no one remembers the event. Growing together, as they have in girth and canopy all this time, they seem from afar to be one huge silhouette. Kudos to those who plant trees for posterity.

Just further on, no more than a block and a half on the right hand side, the east side, up in the Pottstown Cemetery stands a magnificent Oak tree spreading full 360 degrees around with well placed branches that allows a free flow of air through its canopy which insures a more healthy, long life. This Oak, I would think, is a Red Oak. At least in my mind, around here, the Red Oak is the premier tree to plant for character and for shade if a sufficient amount of land around it is dedicated for its size at maturity. This Oak is truly a splendid specimen living well and, I certainly hope, will live on to shade generations yet to be born.

An appreciation for life must not stop with the human species but should extend to all species living in our Planet's environs. That which gives meaning to your personal desires should incite within you an awe of reverence for life. A saying goes something like this : To plant a tree under which you know that you'll not be able to feel comfort of its shade is the highest form of empathy. These five trees are but a few growing in Pottstown which attached my eye over the years. The compulsion to write about them now is my attempt to turn a personal awareness into a public one.

Ronald C. Downie

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