States across the U.S. celebrate Arbor Day at different times due to differing tree planting seasons. Tennessee celebrates Arbor Day on the first Friday in March (3rd), while Kentucky and Virginia celebrates theirs on the last Friday in April (28th). It’s a time to commemorate how much trees add to our lives. A list of the times you use trees in some fashion each day is surprisingly long. Here’s an example.
The alarm goes off, you get out of bed (wood), use the bathroom (toilet paper), get dressed (rayon clothing), and go to the kitchen for breakfast. You have coffee (tree beans) or hot tea (tree leaves and twigs), or hot chocolate (tree beans), cereal (cardboard container) with a sliced banana (tree fruit), whole-wheat toast (wood cellulose fiber) and orange juice (tree fruit). After breakfast you brush your teeth (cellulose binder and polish), put on your leather shoes (tree bark acid processing), leave your house (wood), and drive to work (rubber tree tires). Traveling down the road you glance out the window at the mountains (tree covered, pretty) and startle a deer crossing the road (forest habitat). At work you probably push paper (wood fiber) around some way or other, and to reduce stress chew gum (tree sap). If the stress leads to a headache you take an aspirin (willow bark). During your morning break you have a coke (tree flavoring) and an almond joy (nuts and cocoa from trees). You may eat lunch under a shade tree (natural cooling) on a bench (wood), or go to Hardees for a hamburger (paper wrap), fries (ditto), and a soft drink (paper cup). Maybe to save a few calories you opt to drink water (filtered clean by a forested watershed).
When you get home maybe you play ball with the kids (ash baseball bat), or relax and read the paper (wood fiber), book, or magazine (ditto). The night’s a little cool so you build a fire (wood fuel) in the fireplace. If you’re lucky your wife bakes some spice cookies (tree flavors: vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg). You wind up the day with a hot shower using soap and shampoo (tree scents that smell good), and before falling asleep you thank the good Lord for trees.
Steve Roark is the area forester in Tazewell, Tennessee, for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division.