Make 2023 a year to learn more about what lives in Colorado – Loveland Reporter-Herald

Growing up in the hardwood forests of Iowa, I learned that trees were one big family of plants. Nobody actually taught me that; it was just the character of a conversation between aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents, neighbors and family friends. Their perception of the “tree” was rooted in and derived from cultural traditions.

And they were all wrong.

Determined to earn the Boy Scout summer camp tree badge and the highest merit badge in forestry, I first read about trees in the World Book Encyclopedia and then in various books that I discovered in the nature section of the secondary library a few kilometers from my home. lodge.

William Trelease’s 1931 book “Winter Botany” was fabulous and life changing! Using the book to tell one oak from another, one hickory from another, one maple from another, I learned to focus on the nuances of detail.

I saved empty egg cartons that would otherwise go in the trash. A box contained samples of acorns from different kinds of oak. Another box contained nuts from different walnut trees. Another box contained the various samaras of ash and maple.

I also started using a lot of wax paper originally purchased with the intention of wrapping lunch sandwiches in it. When I read that you could preserve tree leaves by pressing them flat to dry and then ironing them between two sheets of waxed paper, I had to try.

The wax made enough of a mess in mum’s iron that she gave me the iron and bought a new one with the warning not to touch my hands!

Collecting fruit and leaf specimens motivated me to identify every tree growing in our yard, a pursuit that extended to every tree in neighbors’ yards, then to every tree in the neighborhood, to every tree sprouting on school grounds and everywhere else that came to mind.

The season came when leaf raking was no longer a chore but a way of finding out.

And discovery has become a lifelong quest.

Imagine the combined intellectual and emotional awe I felt when I learned that Mount Trelease – the mountain through which Interstate 70 passes through the Eisenhower and Johnson tunnels and on which the Loveland ski area has a trail de ski – was named in honor of William Trelease whose book escorted me out of the realm of mistaken cultural tradition into the realm of factual intellectual knowledge!

Sharing this walk down memory lane motivates me to ask some questions for you to ponder.

Do you know what a tree really is? What does it mean to be a “tree”?

Do you know how many different types of trees grow in this world of ours, and do you know how many of them grow naturally in the wild in Colorado?

Do you know why trees are important?

Discovering answers and personal perspectives to such questions can significantly enrich daily life because whether you see them, smell them or hear them, trees are part of your life.

Let’s talk about nature

January begins a new year-long theme for monthly nature programs at the Loveland Public Library. “Living in Colorado!” will focus on exploring the diversity of life in Colorado, beginning with “Why Trees Matter” on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 10 a.m. The free program sponsored by the Friends of the Loveland Library will explain tree diversity globally and statewide how trees form ecosystems on which other wildlife depends.

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