Earlier this month, as regions north of Athens grew ever more consumed by flames, an artist I used to follow on Twitter mentioned that she had written to a friend there about what could be done. Per the Greek: “Tell everyone to come back in the spring, and help us plant trees.”
Planting trees seems like a good thing to do at any time, wherever you are. It feels miraculous, the way seeds take root, but it isn’t at all. Growing a tree is perhaps the most natural thing a person can do in these absurd and uncertain times. Here in the states, The Jonsteen Company maintains a nursery of sequoias and redwoods, with grow kits for everything from wildflowers and bonsais to the giant, ancient redwoods indigenous to the Pacific northwest. Bristlecone, palm tree, or even olive, it’s likely you’ll find it in their library of trees that need planting. For about ten dollars, plus or minus shipping (depending on where you live, you might be close to a retailer), you can acquire everything you need to get started. They have a hotline you can dial for guidance as you nurture your little seeds and saplings, which are all backed by a guarantee.
So what if we all planted trees? Over the years, I’ve propagated all sorts of them in large pots in my apartment, giving them away or transplanting and dividing them when they grew too unwieldy for the indoors. Before the pandemic, it was fun to entertain people in my dining room, arched over with living, tropical greenery. These days my indoor plants are my most constant companions, filtering the smoky air that blows in from local fires, adding color and shadow to the airy old rooms I inhabit, and defiantly feasting on the relentless, beating sun.