Wednesday, March 11, 2009

With Apologies to Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
And in the spring, nothing compares
To the horrid stench of the Bradford pears.

A friend wrote a note to me on this subject:

“I took a horticulture class in high school where we learned how they developed and planted the Bradford Pear trees all over the campus of the University of Maryland, only to watch prospective students choose to go elsewhere because of the stench.”

For every home run hit this season, the Rome Braves will plant a tree on the trail circling the stadium. Last year they knocked about 150 out of the park, so expect quite a few saplings lining the path by the river. This is a great service, a clever way to support the boys’ hitting efforts as well as doing something to green up the tumbleweed badlands out there now.

Just please, Romey—don’t plant any stinkin’ Bradford pears. Imagine visiting the park to gawk at practice, or catching one of the early season games, only to be affronted by the dull reek of a frat house dumpster on a Sunday morning.

These “Frankenstein” trees, as the Sierra Club calls them, don’t even offer a real fruit. The marble-sized nuggets they produce attract birds with low gustatory expectations—like people who eat gas station burritos just because they are there. Since the trees are hybrids, once the birds poop out the seeds Bradford pears mature in their native state: a deadly-thorned thicket of dense shrubbery choking out native species. The trees also grow too fast and top-heavy, like corn-fed country girls.

This town offers enough in the way of olfactory experiences: the sulfur tinge of river on low water days, the wafting odor of various plants and factories, and the pervasive smell of rank frying fat all the way down Shorter Avenue. When we’re really lucky, some areas of town are treated to the pungent odor of a hydrochloric acid bloom from the folks at Berkaert.

If this year’s tree program goes well, perhaps next year we could bump it up a notch. For every home run hit at State Mutual Stadium, the Braves could plant a tree and the city could cut down one of the horrid Bradford Pears standing single file in the bypass median. Then they could replace them with something appropriate to our hometown baseball sluggers—maybe a nice line of ash trees?

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