March 13, 2008

We Speak For Дрвата

Last year, due to an unusually dry and mild winter and a subsequently scorching summer with unfavorable winds, much of the Balkan peninsula was ravaged by forest fires. The situation was particularly acute due to the lack of resources available with which to fight the blazes--European Union nations pledged fire trucks, helmets, and helicopters. Ultimately, almost eight thousand acres were affected--no small sum in a nation of Macedonia's size--and a national emergency was declared.

On Wednesday the entire student population of Macedonia was mobilized to combat the damage done last summer. Instead of going to classes all students and teachers from both the high schools and the elementary schools went into the surrounding foothills and fields and planted trees. If this sounds like a dream come true for the Arbor Day Foundation, the project's title, Денот На Дрвотo, or Day of the Tree, seemed a bit more befitting of that old orange environmentalist. You know, the one who spoke for the trees.

And it happened: Mid-morning arrived, as did the droves of teenagers to a parking lot near the center of town. Attendance was (more or less) taken and soon the whole lot of us were ascending like lemmings into the hills. It was an unexpectedly warm and sunny day. After about thirty minutes of climbing we were considerably high above town and suddenly stumbling upon holes...pre-dug holes, just waiting for us!
If that doesn't sound like the work of the Lorax...

Now, before you get to the bottom of this post and ask, Why is Dan posing triumphantly beside a weed? I should note that when I say we "planted trees," what I mean is we buried these rather wimpy twigs into oversized dirt holes. It was sort of like putting Shaquille O'Neal's wedding band on a toddler. But we were assured that they will grow and while the resulting trees may not be the prettiest things you've ever seen, they'll contribute greatly to soil integrity and help prevent erosion.

Oh, by the way, we have school on Saturday as a result of this tree day. I guess there really is no such thing as a free lunch.

Jillian hard at work


Climb, lemmings, climb!

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