THEM THAR TREES
When I was a kid I used to go tramping about the woods with my dad. He loved to go hiking, generally in places where there were no trails, and we'd often go exploring.
My dad was very good at tree identification. No, he was extremely good at it. We couldn't pass a tree when he wouldn't know what it was. Sometimes he would ID a tree by just its bark, which is often very difficult. And every time we'd go wandering around, he would point out this or that tree and tell me what it was. And then he'd explain to me how to identify it by its proper name.
And that information would go through one ear and out the other. Why? I'm not sure. I did love the woods, even back then, when I was just a little kid. But for whatever reason, I just never bothered to learn much about the individual trees.
Oh, I could tell you about forest succession, and explain some simple elements of forest hydrology; and I understood the roles some forest types played in certain ecological niches. But I couldn't really tell you how to tell an elm from beech.
Maybe I was having such a good time in the forest that I didn't care for it to be turned into a classroom. Hell, I just don't know. But now that I'm older I wish that I'd paid more attention to my dad when he was trying to teach me how to know what kind of tree I was looking at when I passed it by.
Oh, well. Better late than never, I reckon. This weekend I'll be hanging out with some of the East's best tree experts as we measure some of the world-champion examples of a number of hardwood and evergreen species here in the South. I'll post some photos and commentary when I return.