tree hugging explained

Parker, a forest ecologist at the Smithsonian Institution, has spent the past 22 years on a research project so repetitive, so time-consuming, that it impresses even researchers with the patience to count tree rings.

Since 1987, he and a group of volunteers have embraced thousands of trees, slipped a tape measure behind them, and wrapped it around to measure the trees’ girth.

“My wife said I had to get out of the house and start dealing with live people,” said Dale Morrow, 72, a former elementary-school teacher who had gotten deep into genealogy (“dead people,” his wife said) in retirement.

He volunteered at the Smithsonian, and people there sent him to Parker. “My wife’s first comment was, ‘I didn’t want you interacting with trees; I wanted you interacting with people.’ ” Morrow told her: ” ‘Trees are people, too.’ ”

Washington Post, 20 Feb 2010