Residents of all ages celebrated Earth Day this week with stories of generations.
Organized by the Mashpee Recreation Department and one of many April vacation week activities, the Tuesday event began with a tree planting on the lawn of the senior center. Addressing the group of about 20 students and members of the Mashpee Council on Aging, senior center volunteers, the board of selectmen, town manager Joyce M. Mason, and members of the Department of Public Works who dug a hole for the tree, department director Mary K. Bradbury described the celebration as “a joining of generations.”
She was not only referring to the multiple generations present, but the years through which the tree they planted, a Kousa dogwood, would grow. “Next year, when you come visit, you’re going to be able to see it blossom,” she told theI children.
Ms. Bradbury handed Ms. Mason a shovel. When the tree was set in place, the town manager shook the first shovel full of dirt over the hole. A few adults and children began to take turns shoveling, but it was not long before the whole group of students jumped in to get their hands dirty, forgetting tools altogether. “Show me those hands!” Ms. Bradbury said while snapping photos of the children, their hands dirty from patting the soil. Afterward, the group was invited inside the senior center for snacks and stories.
“It was fun and exciting,” Christiana M. Miller, 9, said of planting the tree, between sips of her Capri Sun. She added that the tree is important because “it helps us breathe. “Fellow student Gabby R. Fernandes, 9, agreed. “We need to be around nature,” she said."Next year, what’s it [the tree] going to do?” Ms. Bradbury asked all of the students. Simultaneously, they shouted, “Bloom!”
The group quieted down for “tree stories,” beginning with volunteer Patricia Squeglia’s reading of the classic children’s book, “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein, in which a tree gives its apples, branches, and trunk to a boy to make him happy throughout his life.
“All trees give us a lot of things,” she said. Ms. Bradbury invited attendees to share personal stories of trees that have impacted their lives, and selectman Thomas F. O’Hara described an apple tree that his wife used to climb with her brothers at their grandmother’s house. Today, she regrets never taking a picture of the tree.
“So if you have a favorite tree, it might be a good idea to take a picture,” he said.
Selectman John J. Cahalane, too, had a tree story.
When his late wife, Christine, was a secretary in the Mashpee school system a number of years ago, he said that a student brought her a “little twig” of a sapling in a cup of soil. She brought the sapling home and they planted it in their yard.
“Today, that sapling is about 40 to 50 feet tall in our yard,” he said.
Ms. Bradbury shared a tradition in her family called “Apple Pie Sunday,” for which she and her family would use apples from trees in her grandmother’s yard to make apple pies.
“Now she’s not here anymore, but we still remember,” she said.
Children told their own stories about climbing trees—sometimes being unable to get down—and watching birds perched on tree branches in their yards.
One student mentioned that her family cut down a tree to make space for a trampoline, and Ms. Bradbury asked what she could do to replace it. When the student was silent, she said, “You could plant another one.”