Emmylou Harris once said on "A Prairie Home Companion" that she wrote to Pete Seeger when she was much younger, telling him she didn't feel she could be a folksinger because she hadn't suffered enough.
Seeger's one word response was, "Wait."
Some days I feel that way concerning writing. It seems some times that the best stories concern tragedy, tragic irony, or some form of dire circumstances. Which is nice when I come across things like Monique Pilie's story and cause, because it merges her desire to hike the Appalachian Trail (which she's already done - woohoo!) with her need to help this city replant roots - literal tree roots, that is.
It also highlights, to me, the ways in which New Orleans and the Gulf Coast's situation now echoes Jewish history a little. Evacuees who have been forced to relocate are a "diaspora" from this area. And now, just like in Israel, people can, through Pilie's site, plant a tree in the New Orleans area in honor of or in memory of someone. Or, you can just plant it to help a city recover.
To give everyone an idea, New Orleans' City Park is BIG. Two of NYC's Central Park fit easily into the City Park area. Now picture nearly that entire area underwater for nearly two months due to levee breaches giving way to the storm surges of Katrina and Rita. Then couple that with the major layoffs of City Park employees and caretakers. What it all adds up to: nearly 80% of the trees in the park are dead or dying. And there's nearly no one to help remedy this situation.
And this is just ONE SECTION of the city.
So, folks, I'm urging you to help plant a tree - not just in City Park, but ALL OVER New Orleans.
A jokey greeting card I once got for a birthday told me that a tree had been planted in Israel in my honor...and my day to water it was Thursday. While you're at it, make some plans to actually come on down, help plant the tree, and visit it once in a while. You will have an entire city population thanking you profusely for doing so.
Y'all come back, now...