“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
-Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Watching peaceful clouds transform into animated images against a bright blue sky always has been a wonderful way to while away time and to keep looking up, no matter what the season.
And though January’s frosty temperatures sometimes can be an excuse to stay indoors, bundling up to observe the unique structure of trees after their foliage falls has become another outdoor pastime when winter rolls into the Midwest. Also since childhood, finding letters of the alphabet in the crowns of bare trees has been a fun way to appreciate what nature can spell for us.
More than a decade ago, our front cover was dedicated to P-E-A-C-E, five letters of the alphabet that appeared to “pop” into clear view, at first hidden in the high branches of trees from the Riverwalk to May Watts Park to Knoch Knolls.
Back then promoting “peace” was aimed to enhance our community spirit and the challenges that unite us. Respecting peace with freedom directs us to support and accept one another with all our differences and imperfections to the fullest extent possible. Through kindness, generosity, fairness and peace, it’s likely our community will provide a basis for attaining a sustainable, meaningful, vibrant and fulfilling life for its citizens.
In our most recent December issue, those same five letters created from branches appeared on page 5 with a Positively Naperville shop local message that featured the Grinch’s “reading” a copy of PN with “PEACE” on the cover. No doubt, we’ll use it again.
To kick off 2022, we looked up in the treetops along the Riverwalk to find T-R-U-S-T. What delight it was to find an almost perfect “S” on a cloudy day near Centennial Beach, hoping we’d be able to rediscover it when the sun shined again in order to take a better photo with blue sky in the background.
Finding all the letters for “trust” in the structure of trees was an attempt to send a message of strength, safety and stability that is our determined desire for 2022 and all the years to follow.
And wouldn’t you know? With trees and their value on our mind, the Morton Arboretum is prepared to commemorate its first 100 years throughout 2022, with plans to plant 1,000 trees to mark its centennial milestone.
To provide a little news for readers to use, we consulted the online version of the The Old Farmer’s Almanac for advice regarding winter pruning techniques. We’ve noted some trees along neighborhood sidewalks have low-hanging branches that might benefit. Known as “dormant pruning,” responsible removal of branches in winter is easy and the source says pruning encourages proper spring growth.
Welcoming and free open spaces for recreation and reflection are essential to the quality of life everywhere. For more than 30 years, Naperville has been recognized as a “Tree City.” Naturally, trees conserve energy, help clean the air, protect rivers and streams and provide a habitat for wildlife.
The health of trees is the primary reason for pruning. Individuals with questions regarding pruning parkway trees will find info by searching “parkway trees” at www.naperville.il.us. Or go directly to www.naperville.il.us/residents/our-urban-forest/maintenance-and-landscaping.
Meanwhile, the long-trusted Almanac advises “to look for the 4 ‘Ds’—dead, dying, diseased, or damaged branches that should be removed. Also look for spindly or weak growth, as well as any branches that are crossed or rubbing.”
Public safety is another important issue. Low hanging branches can be eye-pokers, especially when the trees stand in the parkway near sidewalks. The low branches can get in the way when folks walk their dogs, especially during after-dark walks. Pruning these low branches is called “limbing up.” Further, pruning can make plants hardier and help them survive winter, too.
Note also when trees have weak, dangling branches that could break off unexpectedly with gusts of wind, they pose a danger to individuals, cars and buildings. If these branches are high up in the tree, very large, or near power lines, it is best to call in a professional tree trimming company. When you see them in a park or throughout the city, contact the city.
Now is a good time to take inventory of the trees on your property. And when you’re looking up, see if you can find any letters. Certainly “A” for arbor is one way to begin. We still remember the thrill of finding that “A” for P-E-A-C-E all those years ago down at Knoch Knolls.
Little branches of wisdom with Bob Ross
Iconic American painter Bob Ross in a Santa hat was portrayed painting bananas in the shape of a Christmas tree, topped with a “welcoming” pineapple for our December 2021 cover. Ross is a longtime PN favorite, known for his soft-spoken accomplishments and “happy little accidents” that grew inside a historic home along the White River in Muncie, Ind. That’s where “The Joy of Painting,” a TV show (now on YouTube) was filmed until 1994.
Muncie is my childhood hometown. When our children were little, they watched Bob Ross’ art instruction, and every time the announcer said the show had been videotaped in Muncie, Ind., our children always would yell out, “That’s where Grandma lives!”
The immersive Bob Ross Experience, featured for the past year at Minnetrista Cultural Center, is a showcase of original paintings to inspire “visitors with Bob’s message of fearless creativity.”
Minnetrista Cultural Center, Museum and Gardens is just a little more than a four-hour drive from Naperville. And for us, there’s no place like home for the holidays.
Stephanie Penick, PN Publisher