Spevak: Arbor Day a time to be grateful for trees

By John SpevakFebruary 22, 2013 

Whoever selected the first Friday in March to celebrate Arbor Day in Los Banos was wise.

The February days leading up to this celebration -- with so many trees beginning to leaf out and bloom -- enable Los Banosans to get into the right mood for Arbor Day,

When residents of Los Banos gather next Friday to celebrate Arbor Day -- this time at Meadlowlands Basin Park on Creekside Drive -- they will have already imbibed the sweet smell of apricot and almond blossoms and seen the magic of bare black trees turning translucent green.

I'm looking forward to March 1 at 4 p.m., when people of all ages gather at the park situated east of Ward Road (in the KB development) to celebrate all the good things trees bring to our community, including beauty, shade, and oxygen.

Los Banos has been formally showing its appreciation of trees for a quarter-century. This year's celebration marks the silver anniversary of the first Los Banos Arbor Day in 1988.

Our community's celebration of Arbor Day next week is a good counterbalance to the drawbacks of trees we have encountered over the past six months.

Many of us, especially those with tall, stately trees, remember the hours of leaf-raking we did last fall. Some of us have had to prune their trees this winter, sometimes at a considerable cost.

And all Los Banos residents who walk under trees in January and February had to sidestep or clean up the bird poop that inevitably lands on our sidewalks and cars.

These drawbacks are the costs of enjoying trees. Like just about everything else in life, we inevitably have to endure the bad to enjoy the good -- including weather, cars, and people, as well as trees.

I know some people who would rather cut down a tree than rake leaves, prune limbs, or clean up bird droppings.

To me that's a poor trade: giving up beauty, shade, and cleaner air for the sake of convenience. I will grant, however, that some of the inconveniences of trees can be significant.

Anyone who walked downtown to shop or stroll in the past two months not only noticed the bird droppings; they also heard loud requests from merchants asking city officials to power-wash the sidewalks more often. Meanwhile, the city's tight budget did not allow for frequent sidewalk washing.

But the absence of trees would make our downtown a barren, uninviting place in the summer. In the same way, the absence of trees in Los Banos's commercial parking lots would turn our cars' and trucks' interiors into sizzling summer ovens.

On balance, trees are a wonderful resource for our community. I hope many people come to 2599 S. Creekside Dr. this Friday -- joining veterans, scouts, and children who have drawn and written about trees -- to show their arboreal gratitude.

Persons who appreciate trees and history should also make it a point to come to the annual Arbor Day Breakfast, sponsored by the Milliken Museum.

The breakfast will be held next Friday at the Miller and Lux Building (830 Sixth St.) from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. It includes pancakes, eggs, ham, coffee and juice.

All proceeds go to the volunteer-directed museum, which preserves the history of the Los Banos area. Tickets are $8 and are available at the Los Banos Community Center and Los Banos Flower Shop, 624 K St.

On another note: Los Banos lost a good man in the passing of Anthony DeSa last month. Anthony was a kind and gentle man who always had a smile for me and everyone else he met.

Forty years ago, when I had just moved to Los Banos, I was greeted in St. Joseph's Church by a friendly Portuguese gentleman about 20 years older than I was. We had never met, but he welcomed me with a smile and a handshake.

Every time I saw Anthony since, he had the same warm handshake and bright smile for me. I (and many other Los Banosans) will miss him dearly.

(Comments on the writings of John Spevak, an Enterprise columnist for 29 years, are encouraged, and can be sent via email to john.spevak@gmail.com.)

(Comments on the writings of John Spevak, an Enterprise columnist for 29 years, are encouraged, and can be sent via email to john.spevak@gmail.com.)

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