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Saturday, April 29, 2017



Saturday, 9:30 AM.  37 degrees F at the ferry dock, 39 on the back porch.  Wind SE, calm with very light gusts.  The sky is clearing, the humidity 74%.  The barometer is steady, at 30.40".  Today will be in the forties and sunny, but rain and snow are predicted for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, then warmer and clearing the remainder of next week.
   Yesterday was the 145th anniversary of the founding of Arbor Day.  Established by the Nebraska State Agricultural Board in 1872 at the urging of Nebraska newspaper editor J. Sterling Morton, who was also a politician and briefly the acting governor of the state, it rapidly became a popular event around the nation and beyond.  When I was a child Arbor Day was an important grade school event, and it remains so in most states to this day.
   Nebraska was at the time, as were other Great Plains states, almost treeless, and it was believed that the prairies were arid because there were no trees.  Establishing forests was thought to be able to change the climate, not a completely illogical concept (after all, there was a lot more rain where there were trees) but of course incorrect.
   Anyone who still believes this to be true should stand in the middle of The Nebraska National Forest, where one can look over the tops of the stunted, stricken trees to the drouthy Sand Hills on the horizon.
   Which brings up the question: what is the Nebraska state tree?  Answer: the telephone pole.
   Still, Arbor Day caught on because it is a positive and simple thing to do, whether it is a shade tree, a conifer, a flowering tree or a fruit or nut tree that is planted, and another tree is always welcome.  We celebrate it here in Bayfield, but several weeks later, as the ground is often still frozen on the official day.
   And then there is that imposter, Earth Day, which doubtless was conceived  with the express intent of supplanting the original holiday.   
   Presented as an antidote to all things considered at the moment to be anti-environmental, with flag carrying marchers chanting prayers to Gaea the Earth Goddess and spouting politically correct ideas  that everyone had damn well better believe in or at least kowtow to, Earth Day is completely contrary to the political philosophy of Morton, who was what we would call today a small-government libertarian.  
   Be a Conservative Environmentalist.  Celebrate Arbor Day.  Plant a tree.

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