Category: On nature

Meet the Pacific Madrone: Ashland Tree of the Year 2006

By John Yunker,

Arbor Day may be still a few weeks away but here in Oregon we like to get things started early.

This week is officially Arbor Week — a uniquely Oregonian tradition.

In the spirit of the week, I present Ashland’s Tree of the Year from 2006 — the Pacific Madrone:

The tree lives at the center of Ashland’s Mountain View Cemetery (the subject of a future blog post).

I’ll pull back a bit so you can look up at the Madrone:

And here’s a final photo from the distance:

You can see the full list of Ashland’s Trees of the Year here.

Happy Arbor Week!

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Every meal makes a difference

By Midge Raymond,

Here at Ashland Creek Press, we’re delighted to participate in today’s virtual Meatout event, along with so many others who are passionate about their health, the environment, and the well-being of animals. For those unfamiliar with Meatout: It has become the world’s largest annual grassroots diet education campaign, encouraging people to explore a wholesome, nonviolent diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It’s a fantastic campaign — for so many reasons — and it’s wonderful to see such a great list of participating bloggers offering news, recipes, and inspiration about compassionate choices.

Diet is such a personal choice, and John and I get a lot of questions — some curious, some polite, some defensive — about the way we choose to eat and live. But what’s been especially interesting for us, as writers and editors, is to see the reactions to John’s novel, The Tourist Trail. As soon as it was published, it was clear that the book was having a strong emotional effect on readers — which, of course, is the whole idea of publishing a novel.

We heard from people in the animal-rights community who were glad to have a book that reflected vegans and activists as regular people (rather than hippies or terrorists, which is so often the case).  We also heard from readers who said the book has opened their eyes to the plights of the world’s oceans and its creatures, that it put into human terms a problem that before had been purely theoretical to them — and this was hugely inspiring, to know that the book taught as well as entertained.

Yet still other readers had a different response: They were bothered by the truths that the book revealed: the fact that our oceans are in peril, that innocent animals are being illegally hunted and slaughtered, that our governments still have a long way to go when it comes to animal protection. And this was tough for both of us to hear — and especially to know that people would prefer not to finish the book than to face up to the very real challenges that are facing our planet.

And at the same time, it’s understandable — life can be overwhelming enough without having to worry about the future of the planet — and this is one reason we love Meatout. By simply rethinking one’s diet, a person can have an enormous positive impact on the natural world. For example, every person who gives up meat saves the lives of more than 100 animals a year. And even the little changes count: If every American were to replace just one chicken meal each week with a vegetarian or vegan meal, this would be  the equivalent of taking 500,000 cars off the road.

So we say, give it a try. A few smart and compassionate people you know agree: Albert Einstein once said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” And Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Check out Meatout Monday for a great way to start.


Ashland’s Tree of the Year

By John Yunker,

There are many things to love about Ashland, Oregon.

Like the fact that every year, since 1988, the city honors a “Tree of the Year.”

Oregonians love their trees. In fact, did you know that Oregon has extended the traditional Arbor Day celebration into a week-long affair? Celebrated during the first week of April.

I’ve noticed that a few other cities also honor Trees of the Year, like Newport, Rhode Island and Austin, Texas. There’s even a European Tree of the Year. I don’t believe there is an “American Tree of the Year” competition yet, but there should be.

And Ashland would certainly field a competitive team.

Ashland is home to amazing assortment of native and imported trees — from the Ponderosa Pine to the Monkey Puzzle to the Giant Sequoia.

You can see the full list of Ashland’s Trees of the Year here.

In the weeks ahead we’ll be posting photos of these Ashland trees. It’s a great excuse to escape from our computers and spend a little time with the oldest living residents of Ashland.

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The good fight

By John Yunker,

Although I’ve been living up and down the west coast for many years, I’d never made it far enough north (or south) see the Redwoods National Forest.

Until last fall.

It is a strange feeling to stand next to another living thing that has been on this planet for more than a thousand years.

These trees are survivors, and not just because they’ve outlasted centuries of Pacific storms. But because they’ve outlasted the loggers.

I asked a park ranger how these trees escaped logging. He said only 3% of them did. He said that even today there are people who would like to get at what’s left of them with a saw.

Thankfully, we have the Save the Redwoods League. It got started back in 1918, when a handful of people realized that something precious was about to be lost and very nearly was. There was no national park then (not until 1968). In the absence of government protection, the people protected those trees. And this organization is still around today as there are still trees in danger.

After visiting the redwoods, I visited the coast south of Crescent City and I watched grey whales in the distance.

More survivors. And, thankfully, people have stepped up to protect them as well.

The Sea Shepherd Society has done a valiant job of protecting the whales from the Japanese. No government is protecting these whales. Just people.

From Save the Redwoods to Save the Whales, these fights are not fought by governments or militaries, but by people. And for that reason alone I remain optimistic that we can save many more creatures, many more habitats.

The fight is only just beginning.

PS: I just came across a great TED presentation on the redwoods:


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