Monday, October 13, 2014

Beauty Lies Within the Forest

When not preparing lessons for my kindergarten classroom, chasing around my toddler, or spending time engaged in one of my many interests, I have been on a non-fiction reading spree. Keep in mind, thew majority of my reading over the last two years has been guided reading books and board books, so the jump back into non-fiction has been choppy at best. Finding the time to stick to a schedule and get through books is not what it once was, though I am happy to admit my TV watching has decreased significantly. Being a self-proclaimed Wisconsin history geek and a nature aficionado, I have been on a recent kick on Wisconsin-based stories, Having recently finished a book on the fur trade era, I was motivated to find a new book on the forests of Wisconsin. In my latest book, Beyond the Trees: Stories of Wisconsin Forests, by Candice Gaukel Andrews, there was a particular section on Increase Lapham I found especially intriguing. As I have become more familiar with the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and the overall forest history of this wonderful state, I have come to know and appreciate Mr. Lapham. Known to many historians as the Father of the United States Weather Bureau, his work in meteorology is well-recorded and his history of forest preservation is second to none. He once penned an essay entitled Forest Trees of Wisconsin that eloquently and intelligently details the importance of forests in Wisconsin and around the world. Though Candice Gaukel Andrew's book took quotes from his essay and it would be very easy for you to grab a copy and this awesome book out for yourself, I couldn't help but share some of Lapham's quotes. Enjoy!

     The dense forests have a marked effect upon the climate of this country in several ways. They protect our houses and our cattle from the rigors of the north winds of winter, and from the fierceness of the burning sun in summer. They preserve the moisture of the ground, and of the air; and render permanent and uniform the flow of water in springs, brooks, and rivers. By the fall of their leaves, branches, and trunks, they restore to the soil those elements of life and growth, that would without this natural process, soon become exhausted, leaving the soil barren ad unproductive. Their leaves absorb the carbonic acid from the atmosphere and restore it to the oxygen; rendering it more pure and better suited for respiration by man and animals. Without this restorative agency, all animal life would long since have ceased to exist. 

     Trees, besides being useful, are ornamental. They enter largely into the material of the landscape gardener. Desolate indeed would be our dwellings were their environs entirely treeless. They are associated with our early recollections. They become in a great degree companions of our lives, and we unconsciously form strong attachments for such as grow near our homes, thus increasing our love of home, and improving our hearts.

I had a special affinity fore trees and the forest before I read this, but these words strengthen and solidify my passion for not only enjoying the trees, but doing my diligent duty to educate and assist future generations in their enjoyment.

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