Birches and elms



"Birch Trees #1,'' (raku ceramic), by NANCY CAHAN,  at Alpers Fine Art, Andover, Mass.

Because of innumerable paintings, photos and such poems as Robert Frost's "Birches'', the birch tree is deeply associated with ideas about the New England countryside (and canoes), as are elms with the region's streets. But climate change might dramatically reduce the number of such trees, and confine them to New England's most northern sections.

Meanwhile,  recent botanical research  has led to the development of fungal-disease-resistant American elms (see one below), which Dutch elm disease seemed to utterly doom only a couple of decades ago.  We all look forward to the return of these graceful , hourglass-shaped trees to the commons and street sides of New England towns where they were so common 60 years ago.  I'm sad I won't be around to see them as tall as I remember the trees, now long dead, as a boy.

I recall Memorial Day parades under the elms and think of their iconic position in New England whenever I hear the Eugene O'Neill play "Desire Under the Elms'' mentioned.