I spent the last few days thinking about trees. I’ve always liked being out in the woods, but to be honest, I took them for granted when I lived where they were always abundant. The time in Texas really taught me to appreciate them so much more. Sure, they offer shade, but there are a few aspects to them that we generally don’t think about.
Namely, that they create a great deal of evaporation. I’ve heard it said that most of the water that makes it past the Rockies can be traced to what has evaporated off of trees and plants rather than the ocean. I can’t really give you the science, though there are those who can. Anecdotally, I can point to differences in how the air feels at the same temperature/humidity in different places and wonder if the differences aren’t linked to the presence or absence of trees.
I suppose the most obvious way to tell is to sit under a large leafy tree during a hot day. Shade is a little cooler, but artificial shade just doesn’t seem as cool. The reason of course is that it isn’t. That evaporation is taking heat away with it, so the shade of a tree is actually cooler than the shade of an awning.
Even in the dead of winter as we are, being in a place with trees again is strangely comforting. I always felt a wrongness living in places where trees were limited. The clouds were different, the weather patterns were different, the absence of trees felt like an absence of hospitable life. I know that’s a personal issue, since many people have lived in all sorts of biomes, and I accept that. Still, I think those of us living where trees are plentiful should probably take a few moments to really appreciate them. It’s too easy to take them for granted and forget all that they provide us.