Sunday, March 08, 2009

I blog for the trees

Remember the Lorax?, the Dr. Seuss character who... of course you do. Yep, he's the one "spoke for the trees." Left, right, center, Taliban, we all like the trees.

In Rome, we have the wondrous pini maritimi, it's a maritime pine tree that is pruned in such a way so as to resemble an open umbrella, perfect for summertime shade. In southern and coastal Italy, the pini maritimi are an iconic fixture, like the toilet-brush-like cyprus that adorn some of the tonier hills of Tuscany, Umbria and Marche. Wisely, these benevolent giants -- the pini -- are protected by the state. And they line most of the streets here in Garbatella, our 'hood. Even though their root structure tends to ripple the pavement and sidewalks, no one would speak out against the beloved pini maritimi. They are so stunning they function as a nice distraction from the endless grafitti, the latest Giovanni + Giovanna per sempre declarations, and even the garish mutande flapping in the breeze. When you enter a courtyard here in Garbatella, you are first greeted by the pini, then the rabble who live underneath them, then more pini. Somehow, they bring harmony to, Ao!, this part of Rome.

But, there's a problem. A nasty infestation has hit several species of pine trees in Southern Europe, and, it appears as if it's now here in Rome. As a result, the state is chopping down 155 of these trees in Garbatella, the local press reported this week.

I took a stroll around the neighbourhood today. It's one of those glorious early spring days here in Rome. The light is incredible. I tried to make out which ones seem fit enough, and which ones must go. They all seem fit to me. I want them all to stay! I'm having a Lorax moment. I'm sure I'm not alone.

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