At Crossroads at Big Creek, we will celebrate National Arbor Day with activities focusing on safe lawns. Oh, we plan to plant trees this spring -- at least 500 trees -- but we are hoping conditions will be more favorable in mid-May. Trees are important in countless ways, but have you ever thought of how trees shaped our cultural history?
From 1450 to 1620, dramatic changes took place in Europe. The period, now called the Renaissance, resulted from a complex interaction of factors which brought irreversible changes in politics, religion, economics, and the fine arts.
The Renaissance came about with the revival of learning from classical antiquity. The humanist movement fostered the conviction that rather than being pawns in some cosmic game, people were, at least in part, responsible for their own destinies. Religions were reformed and counter-reformed. The educated came to believe they could understand nature, and science as we know it developed. The rise of merchant princes encouraged a patronage system which stimulated creativity in scholarship, literature and the arts.
While Italians today will trace the Renaissance to the institution of "buying on credit," it seems to me that a major factor of the Renaissance was that trees became available to the general populace. During the Middle Ages, forests were the exclusive property of the nobility and the church. Lords and Bishops owned and hoarded all of the trees.
But forest renewal and the rise of the merchant classes made commerce and the fine arts flourish. Common people were able to acquire boxes, furniture and conveyances. Artists could carve wood and use panels for painting. Instruments including the harpsichord, guitar, and violin were invented. Wood was available for shipbuilding which made exploration, trade and colonization possible.
Few historians (OK, no historians, maybe a few naturalists -- a very few ... one) credit trees as the major factor in the Renaissance. But consider what would have transpired without trees?
Throughout the day on April 26 (National Arbor Day), the Collins Learning Center will host an array of SafeLawn activities capped off with a public lecture by Paul Tukey, a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies, at 7:00 in the lecture hall.
Sunday, April 28, we will belatedly celebrate Arbor Day with a tree hike at 1:00 and a lecture "The Value of Trees" at 2:30. Both are free and open to the public.
Running Green is coming! This year, Running Green for Crossroads, Door County’s First and Only Trail Run will welcomes all runners and walkers to Crossroads on Saturday, June 22. Visit http://www.crossroadsrun.com/ for details and registration information.
Crossroads at Big Creek is a donor supported education center dedicated to science, history and the environment. The Collins Learning Center is open 2:00-4:30 daily and during scheduled events.
Friday, April 26, 7:00 Lecture: Safe Lawns
Paul Tukey, North America's leading advocate for natural lawn care will address the hazards of lawn care products and explore the benefits of non-toxic lawn care with safer and equally beautiful alternatives. Sponsored by Door Property Owners, the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership, Sustain Door, Wild Ones, the Door County Environmental Council, Wyatt's Gallery, The Ridges Sanctuary, and Crossroads at Big Creek. This program is free and open to the public.
Sunday, April 28,
1:00 Nature Hike: Trees of Crossroads
Join the naturalists for a belated Arbor Day hike through the Crossroads preserve. About an hour. Meet at the Collins Learning Center. Free and open to the public.
2:30 Lecture: The Value of Trees
Learn some of the ways trees are of value, starting from prehistoric times until the present. Free and open to the public.