Monday, August 4, 2008

Common (Man)sense

Perhaps this will become a new occasional feature here at The Common Perhaps not. But it's stuff that makes a ton of sense to The Common Man. And it should to you too. Because you think just like he does. Because he's The Common Man. Got it? Good. The Common Man isn't sure if he does, because it's awfully late.

Anyway, as The Common Man drove through Delaware this weekend, he learned of the continuing plight of the state of Maryland, which keeps losing its state trees. Indeed, in the past six years Maryland has lost two of its state trees to powerful storms, necessitating an open competition to find the latest greatest tree in all the land.

At almost 200 years old, the "new" tree, known as the Wilmer Stone Oak, is 128 feet tall and shaped "like a spindly old man reaching over for a drink of water," according to the Baltimore Sun. The new tree has had problems of its own, however. In 1988, part of the tree collapsed under its own weight, leaving it scarred and twisted. Some day soon, undoubtedly, the rest of it will topple, and Maryland will have to begin its hunt all over again.

The problem, The Common Man believes, is in the system Maryland uses to choose its official trees. The state uses a formula, devised by forester Fred W. Beasley in 1925 that gives the tree a point value based on the size of its circumference, height, and crown width. Such a system favors old trees that may soon fall victim to nature's cruelty or to their own size. And so Marylanders, every 3 years, have to get used to having a new official tree, never having time to grow attached to or proud of the tree that represents them.

Wouldn't it just be simpler to plant a few trees around the Capitol, wait a few years, determine which was the most likely to honor the state with its perfection, and build a little shrine around it? As it grows, then, the state's love for the tree can grow with it. It can truly become the state's tree, rather than some random plant chosen by an arbitrary formula. It can become a source of state pride and, when it dies years later, the state can mourn and come together and start the process over again. It will be wonderfully efficient, utilitarian, and practical. And terribly manly.

Or maybe The Common Man shouldn't write these posts so late at night.

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