No Nagratok, Nagarkot! & Trees Are Dear Friends

Ashok Silwal

Still at home, I was preparing my backpack to go out early in the morning: with some friends we had planned a day together hiking around Nagarkot and Dhulikhel.

Before he has to go to school, my little son was looking at me with a mixture of curiosity, anxiety and excitement as if he were coming too!

‘Dad!’, he asked, ‘what are you doing in Nagratok?!’

‘Ah Ah ..! No Nagratok…. Nagarkot!’

‘It is a beautiful place on a hill where you can experience the fantastic view of nature beauties, especially you can enjoy the best mountain views near Kathmandu. There are awesome sunrises and sunsets there: really amazing. There are many tall trees: pine forests and magnolia trees encircling a famous Temple called Changu-Narayan.’

‘Oh! Dad! May I come? I love trees. I would like you teaching me about trees and telling me a story. I would like to come with you.’

‘Now, little one, you are still a little too small to come because there is a lot to walk but I promise that I will soon take you with me. And anyway, backing in the evening or tomorrow, I will tell you about the magic and mysteries of trees.’

When I got home, he was there waiting for his story of trees,it was late, then I postponed until the next day and, the next day, we settled one next to each other on the bed and I started!

What is a tree?

A tree is a large plant that stands above us. Some trees grow alone in gardens and courtyards, others gather to form forests.
You know that some species grow as tall as 50 cars stacked on top of each other!

They can live hundreds of years and the oldest ones are millennia!

All parts of the tree work in harmony. From the deepest roots to the smallest leaves on the high branches (those that, in Africa, giraffes like and that’s why they have such high neck!), all the elements that compose it, work for a single purpose: to survive.
There are various types of forests in the world: some trees have leaves, others have needles.

Forests cover nearly a third of the mainland of our planet.

But, how trees live?

Have you ever seen a tree eating a plate of Daal Bhaat or mom or Thukpa…?

What does a tree eat?

To live, grow and even get food, trees need sunlight, water and a gas called carbon dioxide. The process of creating their own nourishment is called PHOTOSYNTHESIS.

‘Oh! How do they do ?’, asked the little one.

‘Listen to me’, I try to explain you in easy way:

As if it were lunchtime, the green leaves absorb the sunlight. Then they use its energy to combine carbon dioxide and water and thus, lymph is formed, a sugary liquid that is the tree’s food.

While they are busy producing sap, the leaves emit a gas called OXYGEN.

All animals and therefore us too, inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. If there were no trees, we would not have air to breathe.

There are many types of tree all over the world. Usually, they divide into:

-broadleaf trees which have flats leaves that fall in autumn and are reborn in spring.

-conifers that have long , thin ‘leaves’ called needles. They are often called evergreens because they do not lose their needles. And they also have many different forms: rounded, enlarged, oval, palm tree, conical, columnar….

The part above the trunk is called the crown. In addition to the crown, there are the trunk, the branches and the roots.

The TRUNK arises from the ground and supports the weight of the branches. It is covered with bark. Each type of tree has its own specific bark: smooth, wrinkled, more gray, more brown, thinner, thicker ….

Next time we go in countryside at home of your uncle, we will take small pieces and observe them together ..ok?

The LEAVES sprout from the BRANCHES along with the flowers and the fruits at certain time of the year.

The underground ROOTS serve to fix the tree well to the ground. Almost a third of the tree is hidden under the ground.

Wherever they grow, all trees are formed of the same parts: roots, trunk, branches, leaves.

The trees do everything calmly… but they are quick to drink! A large tree can suck hundreds of liters of water from the ground a day! They grow so slowly that it is difficult to see what they are doing; year after year, they remain motionless and silent but under the surface , there is a whole laborious activity.

They are somewhat mysterious beings…

Even the leaves are very special organs: they can slowly turn towards the sun, they can change color, they produce food for the whole tree.

-Is it for all these reasons that birds build their houses in the trees, dad?

-You are very right! The trees are home to an extraordinary variety of plant and animal life.

For example, the roots are welcoming homes for rabbits and tiny creatures like worms and beetles. In the branches, many animals live: they play, they eat, and…. They do popò ! that is then the nourishment for the tree! There are monkeys, squirrels, lizards…..and may more …

-Oh really!? – exclaimed my little one laughing…

-There are birds with their nests, snails….and even when the tree dies (like us) because it is old and the wind makes it fall, it becomes a beautiful home for spiders and insects and also for mushrooms…

They decompose it and slowly it returns to the earth…. for other trees.

Some insects are also bad and bring disease to the tree that must be defended: a bit like the dengue mosquito for us….

We have still many things to say about the trees but today we will stop here.

The important thing is that you understand that trees are our friends. We have to help them: the deserve our love and attention .

-Yes! Also the teacher at school is saying and explaining that.

-The trees help us in so many ways: they provide us with food, wood and many other useful products.

They freshen the air and make it healthy by producing oxygen.

Many people harm trees yet! They/We cut the forests, we cause pollution …. Instead we have to take care of them .

-Thank you dad! Great story and great moment with the trees!

One day, you bring me in a forest?

And you know what? Now, when I will see a tree, I will look at it differently; I will imagine the roots.. I will observe its shape, the leaves, the branches…. As if it were a person, maybe a schoolmate, a friend …

I will speak to it maybe and listen to its ‘song’….

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