Michigan's just-right trees – red maple and butternut
It's not every day that plants are playas in presidential politics, so let's pause to enjoy the spotlight shone on trees by Mitt Romney, who explained his love of Michigan this way – "The trees are the right height" – before going moving on to the subject of cars.
Now before dismissing this as a one-off idea that came to him suddenly and will never be repeated (because sadly, his profession of tree-height love has drawn ridicule), it's a statement he's made before that, and since. (Source.)
So what IS the right height for trees? WaPo's Al Kamen (a Midwesterner and old beau of this blogger) helps:
The region’s red maples (40 feet at maturity) and butternuts (50 feet) — in contrast to the West Coast’s ultra-imposing redwoods or the South’s live oaks or the iconic Southern magnolia — are somehow gentler and feel a bit more accessible. And the fall colors, well, goes without saying.
Soooo, they're gentle, not ultra-imposing like those West Coasters. Yeah, who could love a redwood?
All this tree talk has inspired one comedy writer to speak up for the trees, many of whom may be suddenly feeling bad about their own heights, not being Michigan trees and all. From A Tree Responds:
I am an ordinary, God and lightning fearing arboreal-American. I did not choose to be this height, it is simply what I grew to. I could no more consciously change my height than you could deliberately change your sexual preference…
Speaking for America's 800 million trees — minus, of course, Michigan's six million perfectly-sized ones — I urge you to consider your words more carefully in the future. We may not be voters, we may not be human, we may not even be what you would call sentient, but we have sap, we have bark, and we have feelings. I may not be the "right" height but my roots are long enough to reach the ground, and that's good enough for me.
I am deciduous oak and I approve this message.
Moving on to whole other plant group, it's not just trees that are right in Michigan – it's the grass, too! Here's what Romney said last November:
I love being in Michigan. Everything seems right here. You know, I come back to Michigan; the trees are the right height. The grass is the right color for this time of year, kind of a brownish-greenish sort of thing. It just feels right.