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Meet the Columnist

Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Tree Hugging....

Tree Hugging

Probably most people remember a tree that was important to them in some way, either in childhood, or because of some special event in life.  

My special tree was a walnut tree in the yard of the house I grew up in.  It was not even a full-grown tree at that time, but the trunk split at just the right height to make a perfect foothold for climbing the tree.

I played games underneath the tree and climbed in its shady branches to sit among the leaves. I swung from a rather low branch and used it as a trapeze. Another branch was just right for a rope swing with a board for a seat.  I spent many happy hours under the walnut tree.

I saw a story about an artist that sketches trees that have a special significance attached to them. He started by sketching a tree that was important to him, and as it turned out, it was also significant to other people who saw the drawing.

It seems that trees are important to a lot of people. An organization called American Forests is the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the United States. It maintains a register of the biggest trees in the U.S.  

Many trees are landmarks or have historic importance. The Angel Oak of Charleston, S.C. is a beautiful old tree believed to be 1400 years old and the oldest living thing east of the Rockies.

Other trees are important because of events that happened near them, such as the dueling oaks of New Orleans, where sword fights occurred in the olden days.  There are “hanging trees” near jails in Texas and New Mexico. Jacksonville, Florida has a famous old live oak tree where treaties were signed between settlers and the natives. Boston had a elm in colonial times known as the “Liberty Tree” due to its association with the American Revolution.

Some important trees are associated with or named after a special person. General Sherman, a giant Sequoia tree in California, is the world’s largest tree and 3,500 years old!  Methuselah, a Bristlecone pine in California, is believed to be the world’s oldest living organism at over 4,700 years old.

Some trees are so important they have a pedigree, such as two large Tulip Trees planted by George Washington at Mt. Vernon.  Seeds from famous trees were once gathered by an organization that sold the seedlings so that you could buy and plant a tree that is the actual offspring of a famous parent, such as a tree planted by Johnny Appleseed. Unfortunately, this program is no longer in existance as far as I've been able to determine.

Trees are often taken for granted until they are gone. Elms were a popular shade tree at one time, but they were nearly wiped out by Dutch elm disease. Millions of firs have been lost in the Smoky Mountains due to imported insects that are toxic to the species.  Many old trees are cut down to make way for roads and buildings.  

The National Registry of Big Trees enables anyone to nominate a tree to become a champion tree  -- in case you happen to have a piece of infamy growing in your yard. The trees in my yard are not worthy of national distinction. However, they are still special either because of who planted them or because of other associations.  

I have a plum tree, the lone survivor of four trees planted by my dad.  My Jonathan apple tree was planted by my late husband to honor a special grandchild and is the same age.

The walnut tree from my childhood is gone, a victim of urban development, but have a large silver maple tree that the kids in the neighborhood seem to favor. The trunk on the tree splits at just the right height for a child to be able to use it as a foothold for climbing.


Copyright 2008 Sheila Moss

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