Elizabeth Herron: The War On Trees

Elizabeth Herron: The War On Trees

Finally, watersheds have advocates!  Workers are getting signatures to put the Water, Forest and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative on the November ballot. The Initiative will give enhanced protection to our watersheds,  forests, and oak woodlands.The wine industry is poised to stop the initiative  before it gets before voters. Consider donating even a small amount to move this initiative into the public eye. It makes the voluntary protection of forests and oak woodlands, key to the health of our watersheds and water supply, mandatory. Please make sure you sign the petition if you are a Napa County resident. If you have time,  volunteers are needed to collect signatures. Contact jplaudatosi@gmail.com to donate or to volunteer to collect signatures.


To celebrate the beginning of the collection of signatures, I offer this guest blog in the form of a poem by eco-poet Elizabeth Carothers Herron. Elizabeth’s writing includes poetry, articles on art and ecology, the role of art in society, and the importance of natural systems and biodiversity in the physical and spiritual well-being of individuals, communities, and the planet. The following poem is in memoriam for the many strong, healthy trees which have been felled for vineyards and winery dreams.


The War on Trees

Drinking tea in bed on a rainy night (the cat

curled next to my hip), I lean

to the warm cup on the bedside table


and then, like the glimpse

of a young girl running through a far woods,

almost beyond sight, almost lost, caught

with the surprise of a sharp pain —

a thought, a memory


like waking at night and tripping

over the stool left mid-rug, losing your balance

in the dark. And so we fall


toward what hurts – all the losses, and listening

to the worrying, the constant effort

to make up for old failures.


Still I wasn’t quiet. I didn’t quit fighting.


Under the alder branches, hummingbird nest a thimble

of lichen in leaves, now you see it now you don’t sway

of spring. Going back and seeing

they’d cut them, my beloved alders, guardians,

of the path to my door.

Where did the hummingbird go to make her nest?


Ten times four seasons – prayers

of leaf buds unfolded into pairs of green wings

as if for a while the bare branches were filled

with tiny green birds fluttering in the spring breeze.

catkins with their blessing of pollen

smeared the sidewalk chartreuse.


(the tea cup warm in my hands, the sleeping cat)


All the slain trees I’ve loved — Why this war? The lies

told to cut them down. The arborist knowing to say

one is diseased so others can be saved.

And what of the souls of trees?


What of their generous spirits, welcoming

branches open to the rain, the wild waltz to winter winds?

How they cooled the house through hot summers.


What is this war on trees?


The thought of some things hurts so

the mind stumbles

and falls into the still-howling self —

what is beloved and taken by malice or caprice.

Some trees.


Now two hawks swim through winter oaks, gone in a blink.

Fifteen years here and those alders from the old place

come back and back. (the cat purring, warm)


Was I so lonely?

The great tenderness of trees.


How the alders grew, and the ginkgo by the kitchen —

so slowly yet one day it reached the second story window,

my writing room, and how I watched its leaves toss

in October, a shudder of yellow fans

and then the puddle of gold they made around its trunk.


The quiet comfort, the small steady joy of some trees (some animals).

"Tombstones" Napa Vision 2050

“Tombstones” Napa Vision 2050