Trees cool the fire in our heads

Irish poet William Butler YeatsIn the first stanza of Yeats’ “The Song of Wandering Aengus,” he writes,

I went out to the hazel wood,

Because a fire was in my head,

And cut and peeled a hazel wand,

And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,

And moth-like stars were flickering out,

I dropped the berry in a stream

And caught a little silver trout.

In Irish mythology, Aengus is the god of love, youth and poetic inspiration. Seeking refuge from the world around him, Aengus enters a forest. His head is swelled, full of passion, desire and dreams. It is a fire. The forest soothes his troubled heart and mind. Forests and trees are therapeutic and have been for us since we crawled out of the water as wide-eyed fish. Even a god like Aengus finds solace in the forest. It is an important cog in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, we have let the forests down. We have not protected them well enough. However, not all is lost. Some are determined to bring the forest into the city.

Many cities are realizing that the benefits of urban forests outweigh anything else. Such benefits include clean air production, energy savings and much more. The Halifax Regional Municipality is one such area leading the charge. In the article, “Benefits of urban forests touted,” Michael Gorman of the Chronicle Herald writes, “Halifax Regional Municipality council adopted its master plan last autumn after a number of years of prep work and consultations. A major goal is increasing the amount of canopies and the plan focuses on the most densely populated areas, taking in 111 neighbourhoods.” Over a hundred neighbourhoods is a lot. The seeds for the area’s urban forestation are clearly in place, but developers know that it will take commitment and patience to reap the benefits. As one developer put it, “We plant a tree in the ground not for ourselves but for our grandchildren. It’s an old saying but very true.”

What do you think? Urban forestation is certainly the wave of the future, as city dwellers begin to clamor for trees more and more. There is a deep yearning in each of us for green. Poets, like Yeats, have known it for centuries. Now it seems that city planners are finally realizing it too. Cold Stream Farm, and its bare root trees, is excited for this green revolution. Hopefully it will cool the fires in our heads.

For more information on Halifax, you can find Gorman’s article here.

*Image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery