by Tim Womick, Trail of Trees
On the eve of the start of my 21 st year partnering with the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) promoting trees and their benefits to Georgians, a tornado touched down in Mississippi. News reports said it was now traveling due east, 50 miles per hour … Directly my way. Today, monster storms are becoming more common. More storms, less predictability. Tired as I was from a day of travel, I made a plan to (when a tornado hit) honker-down in the hotel’s bathroom, hiding under the king-sized mattress I saw myself hauling into the tub with me. Confident and slightly anxious I got in bed, lifted a little prayer, put my head on the pillow and didn’t awaken again til dawn. No, the thunderous claps didn’t roused me. Nor did the pounding downpour that went on for hours. I had a mission to do and I wanted to be relaxed and ready for my 1st audience of 500 in Cordele.
What a sweet auditorium they had. The state-of-the-art light and sound system helped me capture their interest in trees as well as their imagination for their future, making sure it included the right tree in the right place.
The next audience in nearby Leesburg was half of the first but our tree party took over their media center and the crowd standing in the back grew and grew during the show. As always, within no time, they were singing about shade, booing particulate pollution and marveling at biology like never before.
Twin Oaks Elementary (I saw dozens of pair of oak that might be their namesake) is a new “Making the Shade” school. The GFC created the program to encouraged healthier playgrounds by funding campus tree plantings. Their’s had just occurred and over 40 new campus trees were installed by students, teachers, administrators and their families. As I was leaving (scooting-out before the buses lined-up) the principal was helping me load my car, I asked who was responsible for keeping the watering bags full during summer. He surveyed the 20 or so we could see from where we were, sighed really big, looked me square in the eye and said, “Me.” Glad he’s on the tree band wagon. I thanked him for his commitment and reminded him that those trees were more valuable than folk realize.