Tree-Incarnation: Christmas Trees Return To Nature (A Poem)

By Adam Cole

January 4, 2014

There are lots of creative Christmas tree recycling programs around the country, and in keeping with the holiday spirit, here are a few of them — set to verse.

It's the week after Christmas, and in every town
You'll see Christmas trees dying — their needles turned brown.
30 million dead trees — that's what you'll find!
"Just some more numbers to boggle your mind."
That's good old Rick Dungey — head of public relations
For the National Christmas Tree Association.
He fields lots of calls — and often they're dumb,
Or perhaps fueled by eggnog with way too much rum.
"My tree's doing great! It's still taking up water!"
The calls start okay, but then they get odder:
"Will it regrow roots and continue to live?"
"Well, no," is the answer that Rick has to give.

But there is still hope — for all cross the nation
There's a sort of arborial tree-incarnation!
When everyone's done with their O Tannebaum-in'
Rick Dungey explains, "Mulching programs are common."
"But there have been some creative ones out there," he adds.
Some trees get a new life that isn't half bad.

Down in Louisiana, where the land meets the ocean.
"We place them out in the marsh to combat coastal erosion."
At the Department of Environmental Affairs
Jason Smith uses trees to make coastal repairs.
The trees trap the soil, and make the waves slow,
"And aquatic vegetation can begin to grow."

At Oakland's fine zoo, the word "trunk" is a term
That applies to both Christmas trees and pachyderms.
The beasts lumber past, pining for treats
Rooting around for a new thing to eat.
Gina Kinzley, their keeper, says they prefer
The sweet evergreens. "The noble firs."
The trees are both playthings and part of their diet
And they're not alone, other animals try it.
Giraffe and zebra also give it a try
"Lions, tigers, the bears!" Oh my!
"The elephants really enjoy the bark."
It looks just like Christmas aboard Noah's Ark.

The fishermen up north in Portland were stumped
The fish population has recently slumped.
And part of the reason, says Mr. Mike Gentry
Is that some of the streams are deplorably empty.
Of woody debris for the coho and trout
There's no habitat! So it's time to branch out.
"They need cover from predators." (to hide out below)
"They need a calm place to rest and grow.
They also need a food source." So Gentry and his team
Sink dead Christmas trees in their swift local streams.

In the East, Mitchell Mann and Dominic Esposito
Are two Jersey boys who live by one credo:
"To save the environment, pretty much, being green."
So they drummed up a posse of like-minded teens.
They'll grab all the trees — every one within reach
And they'll bring them all down to nearby Bradley Beach.
"Once the trees are on the beach they're laid down against a fence."
Where they form the foundation of the town's defense.
"And as the wind blows the trees capture the sand."
And soon dunes will form — at least that's the plan.
And in future years, "When a storm comes through
It protects all the houses," and habitat too.

Though their life has been sapped and their trunks have been hewn
These trees might form forests in marshes and dunes.
And dead groves will grow in the rivers and zoos.
I'm Adam Cole, NPR News.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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