Have you hugged a tree today? Well maybe you should.

The thought struck me the other day as I sat in a doctor’s office. I was waiting for my appointed turn to see the specialist who seems addicted to the Pierre Trudeau saluting prostrates on a regular basis. At my age it is recommended that this monitory procedure be done a couple of times a year. Why this is so is beyond my comprehension, although the age old adage, that “if you don’t use it you lose it” could be a hint. Usually a multi-fingered glove is worn so I suspect that the Doc expects, at some time or another, for me to request a second, third, or fourth opinion. But rightly or wrongly, I, as most others have been taught, thought, or brainwashed, try to trust, accept and follow our doctor’s decisions. And furthermore, how one makes their living, though I have my own personal opinions about many, is not for me to judge.

While waiting I reached over and picked up one of the dog eared magazines that hang around doctor offices for seemingly years far greater than the doctor’s age. Nevertheless, I flipped it open and the first thing I saw, tucked in the corner of the glossy page, was a boy of about ten years of age hugging the huge trunk of a tree that I would guesstimate to be on the beyond side of 10 times his age.

Being a tree hugger myself, and proud of it, led me to read the short script of explanation. The capitalized caption read Environment, and it was authored by Sharon Oosthoek. Judging by the spelling of her name I expect she is connected, or stems from Dutch extraction. And she wrote, and I quote:   “Children who live on tree-lined streets have lower rates of asthma, say Columbia University researchers in New York City. The study published in J Epidemio Community Health, looked at rates of the illness among 4- and 5-year-olds, as well as the number of trees in 42 areas of New York City. Researchers found that asthma rates fell by almost a quarter for every increase in tree density equivalent to 343 trees per km2.

“That link held after taking into account sources of pollution, levels of affluence and population density.  The authors say this doesn’t necessarily mean the number of trees in a neighbourhood are directly related to asthma. Instead, they suggest trees may help curb asthma indirectly, by encouraging children to play outdoors more and improving air quality.”

Which brings up the subject of Earth Day, which is being held as designated on April 22. This is your chance to do your bit for the environment. There are many ways to do this. Some adopt roads and clean up the winter’s accumulation of debris. Some clean up river areas, parks, and similar areas. But the two or three that seem to tickle my fancy the most are to plant a tree, lots of trees; erect a birdhouse, lots of birdhouses; or plant a butterfly garden, a big, beautiful butterfly garden.

This just past week from the time of writing, I and a number of volunteers through our Greenspaces for Wellington  environment group, had a fun time. It was our fifth annual birdhouse workshop that was hosted by Greenway Nursery at Shantz Station Road, over near Breslau. In just two days, just short of 200 bird houses, both bluebird and tree swallow, were put together and taken home by smiling families. And an additional 20 bat houses  went out the door in their arms as well.

By-the-way folks, just in case I didn’t mention it before, these are available to anyone, and any group, wishing to make it their environment project. The cost recovery to you is $10 each per birdhouse, and $20 for that of the bat. Just be sure you call first to be sure someone is there in my carport to greet you, ’cause that is where the kits are cutout, sanded, drilled and packaged, all by volunteers, ready for pickup.

Take care, ’cause we care. 




Barrie Hopkins