Monday, August 9, 2010

Still Standing, Still Riding: Trees in Phoenix

Informative Sign Along the Canal, Slightly Misleading Photo Inset Mapping

I recently read an informative post over on Blooming Rock about the city's "Tree and Shade Master Plan", and it reminded me of this sign on the Arizona Canal just north of Northern Avenue, along with the stand of Eucalyptus trees it explicates. 

  There Were More Here Once

 Environmental impact statement of erecting a giant blue cell tower next to "The Largest Last Stand of Hardwood Trees in Phoenix:" no impacts noted. 

 More Favorable Angle (cell tower obscured)

Big Ole Burl

Although I am not in favor of planting new large stands of these eucalyptus trees in the city, since they burn like torches in fires, and seem to crack off big upper branches in wind storms, I like stopping by this stand on my rides along the canal. The ducks love them, and there's usually someone sitting here fishing, or otherwise enjoying their shade. This site recommends other types of eucalyptus for Phoenix, namely Ghost Gum, Red Cap Gum, and Coolibah, although without mentioning their relative flammability. An alternative to importing drought resistant species from thousands of miles away is illustrated farther down the path, where native species shade the trail (at least on one side. More imports on the right.)

    The trees on the left drop plentiful seed pods, which can be ground into flour and eaten.

 A Tunnel of Cool on a Hot Day

Trees and bicycle riding just go together. A patch of grass or a bench, a cup of coffee or a water bottle, a running stream, canal, or river, add a good book or an old/new friend, and I'm set for a few hours. Throw in some pastries (dutch letters from Jaarsma Bakery in Pella, Iowa, for old oak trees, for example), or any other handy picnic food, even a handful of walnuts and some cold sparkling water, and I'll just park there for a spell. I think I was going somewhere with this whole trees in the city theme but I got so relaxed it kind of slipped my mind. A peaceful, leaves blowing in the wind type of feeling set in.

I'll have to go find a shady spot and study the clouds to try to remember. What kinds of trees do you see on your rides? Nice shady spots along the way? Woody cathedrals dressing laser-straight French lanes? Winding country roads? Boughs piercing hedge rows? They are all out there. Get up. Go ride.   

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