Over one hundred people are attended the opening of the Celebration Forest on Sunday, May 29. Approximately 300 trees were planted in memory or celebration of loved ones!
The Celebration Forest was made in partnership between ReForest London, the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), St Josephs Health Care (SJHC) and other partners with interests in Westminster Ponds lands. The health care organizations have dedicated this land as part of their ongoing commitment to the health of southwestern Ontario’s people and environment.
London’s celebrated poet, and City of London Poet Laureate, Penn Kemp was a featured guest, who read her poem “Commemorating in Celebration Forest.” Mary Kerr was also celebrated as ReForest London’s Tree Hero for 2011.
Commemorating in Celebration Forest Here’s to trees that celebrate soul! We celebrate their verve. Here’s to tree as memory holder, tribute to our beloved’s ongoing presence. The Oak above Pond Mills hidden on a hillside of younger upstarts. The Beech behind Attawandaron where October puffball might pop. The Black Spruce and Tamarack that whisk us to clearer northern air as we walk through Sifton Bog like winds that wind along each limb. Trees we have known are trees we can meet by species. Once connected, always familiar, old friends to greet on any city street or in deep woods if we can slow down long enough to salute the Tree of Life in each. Light candelabra of Catalpa, Horse Chestnut, Pine, Balsam Fir, Juniper or Cedar cone. Sing a litany of names that belong here. Alder, Balm of Gilead, Willow galore. Glorious Maple, Butternut, sad slips of Elm, even intrusive Buckthorn now. Celebrate those graceful interlopers, the Carolinians (Redbud, Tulip Tree, magnificent Magnolia) sheltering here at comfort’s edge in Snowbelt country. Here’s to lacey Walnut, Honey Locust, whose canopies carry us off to African plains: Acacia giraffes might browse or Le Douanier paint above his lion. Sycamore is our memory tree, shedding its bark like arbutus, its winter silhouette a ghostly skeleton, reminiscent of that other London’s Plane-shaded streets. Mother trees surround us, the very few left over from original forest we long paved over, old rotten stumps that settlers burnt to clear their land. Trees know their season, their reason for being. How each tree reaches out to be- come World Tree. We have so much to learn from not living on but with our place. We who live in this Forest City must ensure a name never replaces the reality of canopy. Long may our trees flourish for we can only prosper with our elder brothers, our mothers down the long lineage of those gone before.
–Penn Kemp, City of London Poet Laureate | www.mytown.ca/pennletters