You naturally check your holographic, fruit-shaped watch.
The year is 2039.
You’re standing in a forest, or what used to be a forest. No trees anywhere. A bleak tragedy.
“Very odd,” you think to yourself, “How did I end up here?”
You turn around and get startled when you notice a mysterious, hooded figure a few feet behind you.
“Extremely creepy,” say the thoughts in your head, but what the hay, some seriously crazy things are going on right now.
“Where are all the trees?” you ask the creepy figure.
The mysterious, hooded figure takes off his hood to reveal himself to be a wise looking old man with a long, wizard, Gandalf-type beard. Speaking of Gandalf, the wise man pulls out a long Gandalf-style pipe and holds it in his mouth. He doesn’t light anything, he just hold it in his mouth. He looks like the perfect wise-old man from every video game ever.
Again you ask him where all of the trees are.
He looks at you. You can almost feel the horrific news in which he is about to give you.
“Gone,” he says after about a good 20 second staring contest that you definitely lose.
“Very wise old man,” you find yourself saying, “What really happened to all of the trees?”
He looks at you.
He looks at his unlit pipe.
He looks back at you.
This happens several more times for reasons beyond any reasonable comprehension.
He finally opens his mouth.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.”
You’ve lived in a nightmare.
You wake up in a torrential downpour of sweat. Seriously disgusting.
You look outside.
Your brain goes wild.
“Oh, heck yeah! There are still trees everywhere!
But what did that weird old man who smoked a pipe of nothing again?
Oh, yeah, that I need to plant a tree 20 years ago.”
You look at your normal, square-shaped watch.
“2019!” you exclaim in your head. “What an insane coincidence that this year is exactly 20 years before my dream! It’s not like this story doesn’t revolve around this at all! Anyway, time to plant a tree!”
You run to your tool shed as fast as you possibly can.
You kick down the door like a freakin’ superhero and snatch up your trusty shovel.
Suddenly, it’s like your confidence really did think it was a superhero and flies out the window without at least an umbrella to slow the fall, but lands flat on its face.
You have absolutely no idea how to plant a tree!
You shrug your shoulders, and go to walk back inside to binge something on Netflix and scroll through reddit for the rest of the day.
“Wait! I can teach you!” This voice coming from seemingly nowhere, sounds bubbly, full of energy and excitement.
You turn around and see nothing but a tree.
“This is whack. I must be dreaming again.” you blurt out loud.
“Nope!” says the tree.
For some reason you accept this talking tree for what it is and don’t question your sanity.
“I was once a little sapling and I remember being planted. I only have limited tools to be able to plant myself, but you, you’re amazing! Those nimble limbs and opposable thumbs, you can plant so many trees!”
The optimism was rich with this one. You giggle in your head.
“Planting a tree cannot, no way, under any circumstance, be that easy,” you say slyly.
A branch lowers down and slaps you on the head. It kind of hurts, but you know it was out of love.
“There is nothing easier than planting a tree!” The tree’s confidence is really showing though.
You start to blurt out excuses. “But, but, but…”
“Planting a tree is expensive!”
The tree starts off, “The cost of planting a tree can definitely vary, just like the cost can vary on those metal hunks of junk you humans use for transportation.”
“Well, how much is it?” you ask.
Passionately, the tree says, “Your common trees are going to be much less expensive than your exotic trees. You can get evergreens from a nursery for around 2 to 5 dollars! They can survive in many different environments and grow really tall. They’ll be green all year and you can dress them up for Christmas!”
“Hmm, evergreens are cool, but what if you want some real leaves?” you ask.
The tree continues, “Maybe a maple tree or oak would be best for you! They have unique looking leaves that become very colorful throughout the year. These can range from 5 to 13 dollars per tree depending on where you go to find them. A maple tree can grow between 40 and 60 feet and and oak can get even bigger!”
“Yeah, but look at this yard. It’s not that big,” you say, disappointed, “I don’t think those trees will fit.”
The tree goes on, “That’s ok! There are plenty of smaller trees that can help out just a much! Dogwood is a great small, low cost tree ranging from 6 to 9 dollars. This tree is unique and pretty to look at. It’ll bring some very pretty birds too! Birds are great! They help plant trees without even knowing it! They’re some of our best friends.”
You think for a moment in agreement, “Ok, maybe it’s not expensive, but…”
“Planting a tree is time consuming!”
The tree laughs at you. “I get it, you humans are busy. You can’t just chill in the sun like me. Trees have the best life, but it really doesn’t take long to plant one.”
“Yeah, we’ve got this thing called work and this other thing called school that we have to go to all of the time,” you say.
“No problem,” says the tree. “A master planter can finish planting a tree in about 10 to 15 minutes. For a noob like you, the first few may take between 30 minutes to an hour. Even master planters were noobs at one point, so it’s ok if it takes you a little longer. It does depend on the type of tree you buy.”
“On the type of tree I buy?” you ask.
“Yeah! If you’re looking to just plant a seed, it might only take a minute or two. Maybe add a minute if you’re planting a seedling. Then one gallon pots can take just a bit longer, depending on how fast you can dig a hole, but all in all, it shouldn’t be more than 30ish minutes,” claims the tree.
You’re getting stumped now, “Maybe it’s not time consuming, but…”
“Planting a tree needs to be done at a specific time!”
“Not really,” replies the tree. “Technically, you can plant a tree whenever you want, but if you want to plant a tree during the best time of year it does depend on the tree you choose!”
“Ok, maple tree, I choose you!” you yell enthusiastically.
“Maple trees are great for planting in the fall!” screams the tree.
“What about the dogwood tree?!” you shout.
“Dogwood trees do need some time to establish themselves, so springtime is definitely the best. Just make sure you keep them watered!” exclaimed the tree.
“And my pine tree?” you whisper.
“Pine trees are awesome because you can plant them in both the spring and the fall.” the tree states.
“They really are the best,” you say proudly with a giant smile on your face.
“The main thing you have to remember is that no matter when you plant your tree it needs to have lots of water during its first 6 months of life,” urged the tree, “You don’t want that thing dying on ya, do ya?”
You shudder to think about your lil’ baby tree dying, “Definitely not, but…”
“What about my area?!”
“Now, this might matter a bit. Depending on where you live, your area is assigned a zone number by the United States Department of Agriculture called the Plant Hardiness Zone. Each zone has its own average temperature where certain trees can thrive better than others.” the tree boisted.
“So, what zone am I in?” you plead.
“Hmm, Buffalo, New York? Zone 6,” announced the tree, “which means this area is great for spruce, pine, maple, and willows, but also plenty of other trees!”
“What if I move to Dallas, Texas?” you say warmly.
“Good question! That’s zone 8. Popular trees include pine, maple, oak, and dogwood!” goes the tree.
“Just kidding. I want to move to Minneapolis, Minnesota,” you shiver.
“Zone 4! Perfect for lots of different types of pines, spruces, juniper, and some maple trees,” states the tree without even a second thought.
You’re sweating. You’re running out of excuses. “All this sounds so great, but…”
“How do I actually plant a tree?”
“IT’S THE EASIEST THING YOU’LL EVER DO!!” screams the tree for no other reason than to draw attention to itself. The talking tree part just wasn’t enough.
“Please teach me.” you beg.
The tree takes an enormous breath.
“First, a disclaimer. Please make sure you locate underground utilities before digging. This may cause you quite the headache. I don’t know what a headache is because I’m just a tree, but you must save yourself from it!
“Second, dig a hole about two or three times the size of the width of the root ball, but only as deep as the root ball. If you go too deep your tree’s roots may not get enough oxygen to survive. Keep the tree straight. Make sure you remove the tree from the container or whatever before you place it in the hole.
“For the last step, you just have to fill up the hole with the dirt you just tossed aside. Do this firmly, but with care. Make sure you don’t leave many air pockets because this will cause your tree’s roots to dry and die. Do you want the death of a tree to be on your conscious? I didn’t think so!
“Then you have some optional extras that could really help your tree out a ton. You can stake your tree, which will help with developing a strong tree trunk and better root systems. Another option for better tree growth is to spread mulch around the base. Mulch will keep in moisture, regulate temperatures, and stops weeds and grass from overrunning your poor lil’ baby.”
“You have been taught, humans.”
You stare at the tree, enlightened. “Wow, so if I’m processing all of this information correctly, there really is no excuse not to plant a tree.”
“Affirmative, human. Now, if you’ll excuse me I must go. I only have 10 minutes once a millenia to actually talk to humans and you just happen to be here. I’ll forget you instantlyyyyyyy!” It almost looked like the tree was waving before turning completely still.
You turn to the camera.
“If everyone planted a tree we’d have 7 billion extra trees. Then we’ll all be rich in oxygen! You just have to plant one.”