Seven Days in Toronto

View from Mt DallasMt. Dallas, San Juan Island, photo by Paul Mayer


Sometimes you have to get away, and there it is. Waiting as always with open arms: O Canada!

We went to Toronto to attend the Rotary International Convention (6/21-27), as well as the Rotary Peacebuilding Summit that preceded it. First Nation blessings were bestowed on Rotarians from around the world as we gathered on ancestral land. Red Sky performances filled the stage with feathers and color, hoop dancing and drumming.

Toronto, we were told, translates to “where the trees are standing in water.”

Full disclosure: I went as an outsider. I am not a Rotary member, but I am married to one. When growing up, my father was also a Rotarian. He didn’t get up early and slip out to breakfast meetings, nor did he come home late at night after dinner meetings. Rotary met for lunch in the city in which he worked, and the meetings were folded into his day each week. We were not a part of that world.

Times have changed.

If I were to sum up the subject matter of both the summit and convention, I’d say it was an emphasis on educating and empowering women in the world, the global immigrant and refugee crisis, and an overarching concern for the environment. All this on the plate of the organization that has nearly rid the world of the poliovirus—only 11 cases remaining–a mission that practically consumed Rotary in my father’s day.

Regarding the environment, you might say Rotary is returning to its roots in that Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, was a naturalist. Traveling extensively with Rotary International, by the end of his life Harris could say he had planted trees “… on all continents of the earth and on islands of the seas.” Indeed Harris thought the planting of trees the finest symbol for the idea of Rotary.

Last year Rotary International President Ian Risley proposed that every Rotary Club in the world plant one tree for each member. That’s 1.2 million trees. Living lungs in the face of deforestation and development.

Islands have the greatest stake in sustainability; as islanders we understand this. On San Juan Island, fifty-four more trees will stand for fifty-four Rotarians. A living legacy as well as a commitment to the future. Here too, Rotary can make a difference.

We all can, by planting a tree. I’m going to make mine a Madrone tree.


Filed under planting of trees

6 responses to “Seven Days in Toronto

  1. Alice B. Acheson


    Interesting!  I’ve always been told — including by nursery staff — that they do not transplant.

    DO keep me posted on your tree!

    Alice ========== Alice B. Acheson, Book Marketing/Publishing Consultant P. O. Box 735 Friday Harbor, WA 98250 360/378-5850 a little elbow room wrote on 7/16/2018 1:07 PM: > > a little elbow room posted: “Mt. Dallas, San Juan Island, photo by > Paul Mayer BY KIMBERLY MAYER Sometimes you have to get away, and there > it is. Waiting as always with open arms: O Canada! We went to Toronto > to attend the Rotary International Convention (6/21-27), as well as > the R” >

  2. True, the madrone tree does not care to have its roots disturbed. I will start with seedlings, in autumn, for this is the tree I treasure over all others.

    • Beth Yourgrau

      The Pacific Northwest Madrone tree is my favorite too. If a reader is unfamiliar with the magnificent, magical, dramatic, mystical Madrone tree here’s a wikipedia description:
      “Arbutus menziesii is an evergreen tree with rich orange-red bark that when mature naturally peels away in thin sheets, leaving a greenish, silvery appearance that has a satin sheen and smoothness.[7] In spring, it bears sprays of small bell-like flowers, and in autumn, red berries.[7] The berries dry up and have hooked barbs that latch onto larger animals for migration. It is common to see madronas of about 10 to 25 metres (33 to 82 ft) in height, but with the right conditions trees may reach up to 30 metres (98 ft). In ideal conditions madronas can also reach a thickness of 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.4 m) at the trunk, much like an oak tree.[citation needed] Leaves are thick with a waxy texture, oval, 7 to 15 centimetres (2.8 to 5.9 in) long and 4 to 8 centimetres (1.6 to 3.1 in) broad, arranged spirally; they are glossy dark green above and a lighter, more grayish green beneath, with an entire margin. The leaves are evergreen, lasting a few years before detaching, but in the north of its range, wet winters often promote a brown to black leaf discoloration due to fungal infections.[8][9] The stain lasts until the leaves naturally detach at the end of their lifespan.”

      And – “Few trees excite the viewer as much as these do. When visitors come from around the world and discover them in their wild habitat, the reaction is instant: they fall in love with them!” It’s true.

  3. Deb Derrick

    Miss you! Glad you escaped our country for a moment…

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. I love how we have both fallen for the Madrone tree, Beth. Remember when I first moved here I told you it would be hard to hang a hammock or suspend a swing, with all our trees growing straight up to cathedral heights?
    Well the Madrone spreads its branches like open arms. Legend has it the Madrone tree was used by survivors of the Great Flood to anchor their canoes, and to this day the Saanich people do not burn its wood in their stoves.

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