Trees, Running and Viruses

Trees on the Run

Trees can get sick, too. Since the descent into quarantine, isolation, social distancing, buying weeks’ worth of groceries at a time, and many other anti-communal activities, I have run solo a lot. In doing so, since conversation is limited to my occasional Tourette’s outbreak, I find myself admiring the scenery. Looking at trees along a run, one cannot help but be amazed at the way they grow, spreading branches, leafing out, producing flowers and tons of pollen. Yet they, too, are often victims of infection. Diseases that infect trees include bacteria, mycoplasmas, fungi, viruses, insects and other plants, like mistletoe or ivy. Some of the names of these diseases are whimsical, such as Drippy Nut of of Oak, Crown Gall, and Lucidus Root and Butt Rot. The American Chestnut has been completely wiped out by Chestnut Blight, a fungus. Dutch Elm Disease, another fungus, has killed a large percentage of Elms in the U.S., by obliterating the tree’s vasculature. My purpose here is not to do a treatise on tree diseases, but to appreciate these tall, sappy plants that provide awe and shade as we run.

Redbud in Bloom

Trees have nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. But they have developed amazing defenses against nature’s tree enemies, allowing them to survive, some for centuries.

Sugar Maple leafing out, with a fig just beginning to leaf out in the foreground.

Some can be old and massive.

On Bancroft School Grounds, Haddonfield, New Jersey.
Some get modified to fit our environment, and manage to thrive.
Some modify themselves. Here the trees are reaching for sunshine.
Reflected trees with a family of geese, goose, gander and goslings, in Newton Lake Park.
Some are home to birds; see the horned owl?
Or provide an egret a roost.
Not all trees have green leaves.
A domesticated tree turned wild, uprooting a sidewalk and caving in a roof.
The same storm took down many trees in our neighborhood.
Some just collapse. Perhaps this was a sick tree that died.
Trees grow where they’re planted, and some, like this one, are awe inspiring.
The ducks and I share the path.

Admiring the trees, their hardiness, beauty, longevity, and variety are inspiring as I run alone, waiting for Covid to be gone.

Running in the time of Covid

East side entrance to Newton Lake Park, Collingswood, NJ

We’ve been encouraged to continue to exercise in this time of Covid. For a runner, it means getting outdoors and running familiar routes, but staying clear of others out on the trail. I’m fortunate to have some rather beautiful parks to run in, and thankfully they have not been closed. What I’m finding, is that, for the most part, walkers, strollers, families with baby carriages, and other runners are definitely aware of the rules of separation, and are complying with them. As I approach a person or group, we give each other wide berths, more than six feet, and continue on our way. While I am a strong proponent of wearing a mask while in public, one just cannot do that and still run. Plus, the mask would soon get wet with the humidity of my expired air (perhaps I should have used a different word than expired…). I have seen far fewer people out on the trails than normal, and that, too, helps with social distancing. There is the occasional yahoo who walks right down the middle of the path without a mask and without moving to an appropriate distance. Those I give even more room.

I think the most common person I come across on my runs now is a fellow runner, followed by a dog walker, then a single person walking, then a person or couple pushing a stroller. It must be particularly frightening to be raising a young family at this particular time.

The trees are in bloom, with cherry and pear blossoms everywhere. Other trees are just now starting to leaf out, which of course means a great deal of pollen everywhere. I learned in an obituary today of the death of William Frankland, at age 108, scientist and renowned allergist, who developed the idea of the pollen count, among many other accomplishments. I highly recommend reading the linked obituary, which is very interesting and entertaining. Pollen makes my nose run like crazy, and makes me cough when I finish a run. It makes me a bit of a pariah today. Fortunately, my wife is aware of this and does not get scared.

In the course of my run I came across this beautiful egret in the bushes.

Egret in Newton Lake Park, with a nice reflection in the water. There is also a goose in the photo. Can you spot him?

Today, these plants bursting from the ground had a paleo-biological look to them, in the wet runoff leading to Hopkins Pond.

Plant life in early spring, Hopkins Pond, Haddonfield, NJ

Now for the reward. Running has its benefits, good health, cardiovascular fitness, the opportunity (when this is all over) to participate in races, but one of great importance is breakfast. After I ran this morning I treated myself to pancakes, made from Gormly’s Buttermilk Pancake mix, and, of course, some Vermont maple syrup.

A good friend of mine, Simon, who lives in London, contracted what is probably Covid, although he was not tested, just told to hole up in his flat until he got better. After being inside for more than two weeks, and suffering a lot, he took a walk along the Thames today in the sunshine and said it felt great to be outdoors. A bit of good news, to counteract the really bad news we’ve been inundated with.

Autumn Run in the Evening

One of the most pleasant times to run is as the sun is setting on a cool autumn day.  This evening was just such a run.

The first stretch takes me through Saddler’s Woods.  This is a 25 acre square of old growth trees right in the middle of a well-developed suburban area.  It has a fascinating history.  Joshua Saddler was an escaped slave from Maryland, who was sheltered here by a Quaker family.  They bought his freedom, and he established a small farm, ultimately repaying the cost of his freedom.  The tract called Saddler’s Woods is now a conservatory, dedicated initially by Joshua Saddler as an area where none of his offspring were allowed to cut down any trees.

This giant old tree in Saddler’s Woods was felled by nature.

Back on the road, having passed through Saddler’s Woods, I had to cross a busy boulevard to get to the next park.  Newton Lake park is a beautiful chain of lakes bordered by running trails and weeping willow trees.  There are lily pads along the littoral edge, ducks and geese, and the occasional heron or egret can be spotted.  The paths are well-used, as this is a great place to walk, push a baby carriage, run, ride a bike, or throw a ball for a dog.

Fishermen in Newton Lake.

A pleasant aspect of running in autumn, especially in the evening, is that the cicadas are quiet, and the cricket’s songs can be heard.  There are leaves on the ground, and they crunch a bit underfoot.  Other than the padding of my shoes, and the occasional chat of walkers as I pass them, it is pretty quiet along this route.  While I am no fan of the hoards of geese we see in our parks, watching them as the pass with a subtle throbbing noise in their “V” formation and alight on the water is a beautiful sight.

Geese in the distance, lily pads.

When I got a little past three miles into my run, I turned and headed back along the opposite side of the lake.  Getting close to the end of the path I could see a three-quarter moon rising.

Heading back towards the east, as the moon rises.

I got my six miles in, but a lot more, having enjoyed the run tremendously.

 

Uncorking Croatia

The Blog of WINES OF CROATIA

RunnersOnTheGo.com

To help enrich the lives of others, we developed RunnersOnTheGo.com to help runners save money on races, running stores, and much more. We also provide the specific local information that makes your travel for business, vacation, or racing as rewarding as possible.

getsetandgo

Travel Blog of a Budget Traveler sharing stories on travel, books & Vegetarian Food

Marc Hemingway

Trying to keep track of my life (and my life on track)

Mid-Life, Mid-Level, Masters Running

Exploring ideas about running to contribute to a more enjoyable pursuit for the mid-level masters runner

therunningtherapist

"One foot in front of the other and one thought at a time"

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

retireediary

The Diary of a Retiree

%d bloggers like this: