The Dead Tree
“We would like to replace your dead street tree with another one of your choice. Please choose from the attached list. Thank you.” That was the extent of the typed-up yellow note stuck on my door the other day from the city’s public works department-maintenance division.
At first, the note surprised me that anyone even noticed—since the cars passing my house would really only be other residents and their visitors—and then after glancing at the list of tree options, I was really amazed.
The list included more than 30 choices, from a king palm to a peppermint tree to a Japanese flowering cherry, and it got me thinking that my city must really be serious about replacing the dead tree and is actually giving me a choice in the matter.
According to the city, its goal and objective is “to plant and maintain the urban forest with trees that will add to the aesthetic value of the community, and to provide mixed-age tree population, adequate species diversity and an appropriate mix of trees in order to provide a diverse forest ecosystem more able to adapt to changing environmental pressures.”
Whew! What a mouthful of verbiage that was! Cities and corporations can never say anything in plain, simple English. However, I forgive the city for its overly wordy explanation. It’s the thought that counts, and it looks like my city is thinking that living trees are better than dead trees.
I started to wonder about my city’s campaign to re-forest the streets, and then my reporter-brain kicked in: Does somebody in city government have a relative who owns a nursery? Is this a scheme by unionized city workers to keep themselves busy by planting trees?
And then, with my reporter brain in full throttle, I realized that the city I live in was named for a tree. The tree in this case is the cypress. According to Wikipedia, that irreproachable source of indisputable information about everything, the City of Cypress was named for the Cypress Elementary School, originally built in 1895. They called it Cypress Elementary School because they planted cypress trees to protect the schoolhouse from the seasonal Santa Ana Winds. If you haven’t lived through Santa Ana Winds, Wikipedia can tell you all about them.
I am wondering if my city’s campaign to plant new trees has anything to do with its history. After all, lots of cities plant trees. Vegetation, in general, is held in high regard these days. Developers build rooftop gardens to make buildings greener. I wonder if the person who posted the typed-up yellow note on my door has any idea that the city that he or she works for was named for a tree. I am going to take another look at the list of 30 trees the city is offering and hope that the one I really want is on the list. I’m hoping I can get a cypress.