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It's All In The Rings

Good morning. It is Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

What is your earliest memory? For me it is standing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and dipping my finger into the sea water that my daddy had cupped in his hand. “Taste it” he encouraged me. I will always remember the shock of tasting salt water. We would often drive over to the coast, through the Redwoods, to picnic and play at the beach.

I also have a memory of being told that a certain Giant Sequoia had been alive since Jesus walked the earth. “That was almost 2,000 years ago!”, I was told. It left a lasting impression. It was also turned into a teaching session as I was told how to count the rings on a tree to determine its age. To be able to look at, even touch, something that old, was inspiring to me. In a world where we routinely see death in the natural world, it is amazing to think that something can live that long.

In 1964 a man by the name of Donald Rusk Currey cut down a goliath of a tree. The tree was named Prometheus and it was estimated that the tree was approximately 4,900 years old! But why would he cut it down? The story goes like this:

Prior to its demise in 1964, Prometheus was one of the oldest trees in the world…The tree was found in a grove of several old trees in Wheeler Park, Nevada.

In 1964, geographer Donald R. Currey was given permission from the Forest Service to take a core sample of the tree to determine its age, which he suspected was over 4,000 years.

Unfortunately, Currey’s extraction went awry, and the entire tree was cut down. Researchers counted 4,862 growth rings on the core sample.

Methuselah is a 4,853-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine tree growing high in the White Mountains of Inyo County in in eastern California. It is recognized as the non-clonal tree with the greatest confirmed age in the world. The tree's name refers to the biblical patriarch Methuselah, who lived to more than 900 years old. By the way, if you have never seen this tree, search the image online. It is something else!

And then there is the behemoth simply known as the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine. This tree is the oldest tree in the world, with an estimated age of 5,071 years. It was named the oldest tree in 2012, beating the previous record holder by over 200 years.

I think trees are wonderful. And the feeling I get when I walk amongst giant Redwoods, is indescribable. God gave us trees and they serve so many purposes.

We know trees clean the air. Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases such as nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone, and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. In return, trees produce oxygen. Maple, beech, true fir, spruce, and Douglas-fir trees produce the most oxygen. They do this using photosynthesis, which converts carbon dioxide into oxygen.

If you have ever noticed how good it smells in the woods, or how pleasant the forest smells in the mountains, it is because the trees are doing their job.

I found these statements online. The is article was written by Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

"A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year."

"A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two human beings."​

"One acre of trees annually consumes the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to that produced by driving an average car for 26,000 miles. That same acre of trees also produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe for a year."​

"A 100-foot tree, 18 inches diameter at its base, produces 6,000 pounds of oxygen."

"On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four."

That is amazing. How often do you think about that? Me, not so much. I look at trees as shade and cooling, beauty, heating, and building. Trees help prevent soil erosion and water pollution. Trees provide food and mark the seasons. Trees are amazing and super good at multi-tasking, but they are always working to give us a life-giving substance: oxygen.

Much of earth’s oxygen comes from the oceans, but trees play a part. They were designed by a loving Creator God who thought that much of us. Such thought and care went into each design.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.” Psalm 33:6 ESV

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