From Friday mid-afternoon to Saturday evening, I drove for 16 hours, with a night’s sleep and several stops for food along the way to delivering grandchildren back to their parent’s care. The drive was mostly up Interstate 65 through the state of Alabama and south Tennessee. As I have observed on several occasions, the variety of shades of green in the spring always delights me. This April excursion was a pure joy as I observed the variety of trees along the roadside.
I had heard one time that Alabama enjoys the distinction of having the greatest diversity of tree species of any state in the nation. My attempts to confirm this revealed that it does indeed. From an Alabama forestry website: “Green woodlands dress more than 22 million acres of the Alabama landscape, roughly two-thirds of hte state. (Only Oregon and Georgia have comparable abundance of forested acreage). Moreover, forest diversity in Alabama is greater than in any other region in the United States, with more than 200 kinds of native trees. These mixed forests consist of a great many hardwoods often thought of as emblematic of other regions: oaks, maples, hollies, elms, and five species of buckeyes (Ohio has just two). Also abundant are the softwoods and conifers – juniper, hemlock, cypress, and eight distinctive species of pine. “
Add to that the lovely blooming understory trees like redbud and dogwood and the blooming wildflowers of the season, especially the streaming ribbons of red clover along the roadways, and one can easily see why the ride was a visual feast. I arrived home shortly after dark on Saturday evening, with several tasks to do before sunrise Easter Sunday, but was happy and relaxed, having enjoyed the beauty of the ride and the Christian music CDs that accompanied me.
As I reflect on the Holy Week just past, I am reminded that many disciples on Saturday of that first Easter weekend must have been grieving and despairing over the events they’d witnessed. The emotions of the week for me 2000+ years later are considerably different, knowing, as I do, that Sunday morning brought a joyful surprise outcome. I experienced peace, delight, anticipation, and gratitude all week. He is risen indeed!
Trees by Alfred Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918, killed in action in France in World War I)
I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.