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App that Identifies Trees

White spruce tree in my yard

This week a friend showed me an app that identifies trees, birds, weeds, insects and several other things, among them allergen identification, tree ring identity, and plants that are toxic to pets.


What a find! It's called Picture This, and I have never been so excited about an app. Many times, I have seen a tree that I couldn't identify. With this app, I take a picture of the tree, and in a few seconds it identifies it.


Just this afternoon, I took a picture of a tree in my front yard that I have been calling a spruce. Now I know it is a white spruce, or Picea Glauca. A lovely spreading tree in my neighbor's yard across the street has always intrigued me. I had no idea what it was until I took a picture of it with my new Picture This app. It is a white mulberry, or Morusalba.


My next door neighbor has a beautiful tree that I have always enjoyed seeing. Now I know it is called an oriental arborvitae, or Platycladus Orientalis.


I am grateful that my friend, a ping pong buddy, told me about this amazing app. We were playing ping pong at a local church Tuesday morning because the city recreation center where we usually play was being painted. During a short break, I looked outside one of the glass side doors and saw a bush I did not recognize. I asked my friend if he knew what it was.


He didn't, but he said he could find out. He opened the Picture This app on his cell phone and snapped a photo of the bush. In just a second or two the app identified the bush as a weeping forsythia. I was hooked! I downloaded the app, which has a seven-day free trial. The annual charge is $29.99, and it is worth every penny to me.


I am ecstatic! If I could turn cartwheels, I would be turning them in glorious glee. I have only run across one tree that the app couldn't identify. It is an unusual looking tree that grows in my next door neighbor's yard. When I took a picture of the tall, gracefully shaped tree, the app told me the connection was not good enough to identify it. I may take a picture of the tree again sometime tomorrow to see if the app can identify it then.


Now I have an easy-to-use tool in the palm of my hand that identifies trees for me. I am giddy with delight! I am totally mesmerized by an app that one or more people developed to do what I have been wanting for so long!! Many thanks to those creative, innovative people who have come up with the perfect product for me.

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Noticing the Sights and Sounds of Nature

Purple flowers begin to show themselves through the leaves of a grape hyacinth
Grape hyacinth starting to bloom

I was standing in my front yard on Easter Sunday, looking up at the large juniper tree beside my driveway. Birds bounced from branch to branch, singing their trilling songs. I watched the birds, intrigued by how easily they hopped through the tree. I listened to their intricate melodies.


All the little and big things that had been vying for attention in my mind took a back seat to the tree and the birds. Through the branches, I could see the neighbors across the street. They were having an Easter egg hunt in their front yard. The father lifted his toddler up to peer into the fork of a tall tree. The child's hand reached out and grasped an egg hidden there for him to find.


I listened to the excited voices of the children as they found treasures in the grass, behind rocks, and tucked next to the driveway. It was an idyllic scene. I came away from it, feeling refreshed after being around trees, birds, and a young family on an Easter egg hunt.


Taking time to enjoy the trees and the bird sounds in my own yard is a great way to de-stress. I don't spend much time doing that, but I may try to enjoy nature in my yard more than I have been. It has such a calming effect and puts things into better perspective.


The things I often stress over don't seem quite as stressful when I take time to listen to the sounds of nature around me and watch trees sway in a gentle wind.


Why don't we take more time to do things like that? Listening to nature's sounds are known to be good for our health because of the calming effect they have on us. For me, part of it is that I get so busy I don't think I have time to stop for a few minutes to listen to sounds around me and see the beauty of nature.


I did take a few minutes this morning to look at the plants starting to green up in the flower bed by my side door. A grape hyacinth was pushing up its purple blossoms. A rose bush sprouted new green leaves. A tulip lifted tall green blades toward the sky. And birds sang as they flitted in a spruce tree in my back yard.


When I went back inside after spending just a few minutes enjoying nature, I had more energy to tackle the tasks that awaited me. Everything seemed a little easier to do. Those few minutes spent paying attention to the beauty of nature around me weren't wasted time. I accomplished more in less time – just because I took a few moments to relax and notice, really notice, the loveliness around me.

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Cottonwood along an irrigation ditch bank

As I sat in my chiropractor's backyard waiting for him to see me, I noticed many beautiful trees growing in his yard. I saw a peach tree laden with ripe peaches, an aspen, a spruce, an elm, and blossoming sunflowers tall enough to be trees.


Do they ever wish they were a different kind of tree? I wondered. I suspect not, because the trees have such distinct personalities and tasks that are just right for them. That may seem a little silly, but I believe it's true. Ask almost anyone who spends time around trees, and they most likely will tell you that trees have their own sense of purpose and their own individuality.


As I gaze at the aspen with birds flitting in and out of its branches, I wonder how it would describe itself. Words came into my mind. Were they from the tree? From my own imagination? I don't know. If it was from my imagination, it's kind of fun to take a tree imagination journey to see what you will discover.


What I heard in my mind about the aspen tree was, "I am welcoming. I stand with open arms. When challenges come, I recognize the gift in the challenge." As I watched its quaking leaves, I sensed it had lots of experience in seeing gifts in the challenges it faces – strong winds, people wanting to cut it down, drought, extreme temperatures.


The towering spruce behind it seemed confident. As I wondered how it would describe itself, I noticed how its topmost branch pointed straight up to the sky. Trees are very good at grounding themselves deep into the Earth with their roots. They are also good at connecting upwards into the sky to the place from which they absorb rain and snow and other gifts from nature. Perhaps that connection is what made the spruce feel so confident.


The tall elm behind me standing near the backyard entrance was filled with several kinds of birds. One small bird with bluish gray feathers on its body and a white patch on top of its head grasped ridges of trunk with its feet and walked upside down toward a fork in the tree. How interesting, I thought. It trusts the tree and its surroundings well enough to walk upside down!


Just then, the chiropractor waved for me to come into his office. Perhaps on my next visit to the chiropractor, I will get to take another tree imagination journey.


If you're looking for something fun, free and entertaining to do, try taking your own tree imagination journey. It's safe and relaxing.

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