Sandy, is now too old to count, she spends her days resting in the quad, giving shade and only moving when the wind comes. She is almost 75 years old. Sandy has not always been that way, old, still and tucked away in the Dickinson academic quad. When she was young, she use to run and play on the beaches of France with her sapling friends. She loved the beach, the sand, the salty air, and the foamy waves. And so did her friends. But there comes a time, in all trees lives, where they must settle their roots and start their adult life. When sandy was three months old, her friends all drifted away in the wind and settled their roots in farmer’s yards, outside of towns, or in parks. But sandy couldn’t leave the beach. Sand tried her very best to stay in the sand she loved, but sand is not a climate a big tree can grow in. The earth was not firm enough. But she tried her best. The water that licked her roots through the sand, was filled with salt and poisoned her insides. She became very sick and didn’t think she would live through the rest of the summer of 1944. She began to die on the beach of Normandy. One day there was a loud banging. Men shooting everywhere, land mines exploding, and the sand become blood stained and littered with bodies. Planes filled the sky, boats filled the shores, and bunkers exploded. Her quiet beach was the scene of destruction. As Sandy was dying, so where hundreds of people around her. A man lay next to her, missing his arm, plucked her out of the ground and put her in his cargo pocket. He said “if I ever make it home I’ll plant you in my home town and you’ll make the beauty that will let me forget about this day”. The man was saved by his comrades and shipped home. And just like he promised he planted sandy in his home town of Carlisle. The next thing sandy knew, she was being planted between limestone buildings in a grassy field. Her roots took and she was nursed by the clean rain water. She grew for seventy years. She saw; the re-birth of a country in the fifties, the social changes of the sixties, the style of the seventies, she heard the music of the eighties, the overalls of the nineties, and the technology of the two thousands. She became old, tall, and strong. She has seen high snow, in the storm of 1996, and storms with strong winds, such as the one in 2012. She is tall and strong, and most of these things don’t affect her. Sometimes she coughs from the smog in the air, and dreams about the clear air on the beaches in France, but for the most part she it happy and likes her home at Dickinson College. Now she, spends her days, not running on the beach, or in a man’s pockets but, watching students walk to class and study in little red chairs, and even occasionally, play games under her shade. Every once in a while, the man, now very old, comes and sits under her shade, and thanks her for her beauty. He and Sandy count their blessings.
On Friday September 12th I met my tree for the very first time. My tree is a European beech tree. It is located on the right side of Dickinson College’s acidmic quad (if you are facing old west). It is not native to the Carlisle area but dose well here. This tree in particular has been thriving on campus for a long time and isn’t the only one on the quad. European beech trees are often used for landscaping. They have a wide mulch circle, and low hanging branches, making it a perfect spot for people to sit and enjoy the shade. The overall tree has an oval shaped breach span. European beech trees have smooth leafs and their bark is often described looking and feeling like elephant hide. Beech trees drop nuts, in cased in a hard shells, theses make great snacks for small furry friends like squirrels. FUN FACT: European beech trees need very aerated soil. An arborist discovered that the things, that the U.S. Military invented during the Vietnam era, for detecting land mines under ground is also great for aerating roots. It is gentle enough to not harm the roots (or explosives) but leaves air pockets that are important to the tree that aren’t natrul to this area.
ABOUT MISS SANDY The minuet I saw my tree I knew she was a girl. I named her sandy for obvious reasons, her being a beech tree and all. I liked this tree because of her low hanging branches and their wide circomfranace. It looked like the kind of tree I would have played under as a kid. The leaves are thick and dark, creating a cool shade under it. The day we toured the trees, it was very hot, Sandy was a nice tree to stand under. When it starts to get cold I think her colors will change beautifully. Can’t wait! -Maggie Dougherty
“he’s got the whole world in his hands”
I’d like to think of myself as an environmentally aware person, my family recycles and as long as I can remember we have. I wore hammy down clothing growing up, and my parents walked to work and my siblings and I walked to school. It’s easy to do little things that make you feel like you are being environmentally conscious. Well let’s be serous, when I was little taking the recycling out made me feel like a super hero. I really thought that every carton of milk I put in the green trash can of our kitchen was literally saving the world, form some un-know doom, as I dropped it in. I even vaguely remember singing the bible song he’s (God) got the whole world in he’s hands, and equating it to the small deeds my seven year old self was doing. Although my one milk carton a week might not have been saving the world, my parent’s constant reminder to not waste ingrained a scene of awareness in me. My Dad loves the outdoors, we spend the summers in a tiny cabin in Maine on a lake. There aren’t enough bed rooms for all of my cousins, so we slept in tents or under the stars. When I was eight my uncle built a tree house with large swings and ropes in climb. If we weren’t in the lake, we were in the tree. The tree house had a password and everything. trees were my childhood. Although, until middle school, I wasn’t aware that trees were a major life line for the environment, I always had a respect for them.
But my passion for saving the world as a seven year old did died down. By the time high school rolled around I didn’t think much about the environment. I still recycled, but out of habit, I still walked to school, but because of lack of a car, and I wore hammy downs because my sister really did have good style in my 15 year old opinion. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school when I received a scholarship to go on a three week back packing outward bound trip on the Appalachian trial, that I renewed my so called passion to ‘save the world’ and love for sleeping under trees in the summer heat.
I spent three weeks, with a sixty pound pack, two tee shirts, an old baseball cap, a good pair of boots, and twelve other high school kids form across the state. Over that time I lived with the bare minimum and the trees. Every day we practiced the ‘leave no trace’ policy. We were taught and now I believe, that if your lucky enough to live on the trial or really anywhere on this earth, we should clean up after our selves. It’s not fair to the environment around us to harm it, when all it does to us, is give. Everywhere we went, we would make it better then we left it. As if to take away any trace that humans had ever been there. Kind of like a thank you gift. We wanted to thank the environment, the trees, the trail and everything around us for being a great host, just like you’d thank a host at a dinner party. The last three days we spent on what was called a solo. We were dropped in an isolated spot, where we were left with a few litters of water, a small food pack, a tarp, a sleeping bag, and a small journal. They took away our head lamps, our watches, and our changes of clothes. We were left with our selves, what we needed, and the trees. In the front of the journal there were a few prompts, some about he trip, some inter personal questions about leadership, and one that I really think relates to how my environmental opinion changed. The book asked, how the trail took care of us? How did our surrounding take care of us, provide for us, and nurture us the way things in our day to day life at home did? The trees where our homes. One rope and a tarp between two trees was home. Trees kept us safe. They held our bear hangs, keeping our food out of reach from hungry bears. The trees took care of us. A place to rest. They provided the shade that made back packing in august bearable. Trees dried our cloths. After we washed our two shirts in the Delaware River, they hung on trees to dry. They were everything we saw for three weeks. The trial provided for us more than the things we cared in our packs. On the third day of my solo, I think I started to go a bit crazy. I hadn’t seen a living person in about 70 hours. I had been left alone with prompts and my thoughts. I thanked the tree I was leaning ageist. And I realized how much the trail, the trees, and the river had given me. Maybe I was a little hungry and going a little insane, but I meant it. They really made my trip what it was and I would hate to see what I fell in love with, the trees that nurtured me, not be there for my children.
In the book the Lorax by Doctor Seuss the Lorax says “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”. The Lorax is a small animal like creature who lives in the woods and advocate for the plants and animals that humans are harming. For just that moment sitting under the tree, somewhere in the Delaware water gap I felt like the Lorax. I wish that was a feeling I was able to bring to the forefront of my life on a more regular bases. Although one person maybe cannot make a huge difference, unlike my seven year old self believed, those three weeks inspired me to want to make a differences and inspire other to do the same. So that collectively we can.
Just like the bible song says “he’s got the whole world in his hands” but really, we as human kind, have the whole world in our hands, its just what we do with it, that counts.
Seuss. The Lorax. New York: Random House, 1971. Print.
Dickinson college class of 2017