Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The marriage tree
. . . .

The marriage tree

Jolynn Paige - January 21st, 2008
After 20 years of marriage, Ian and Nancy Ashken are still deeply in love - with life, with each other, with their family… and with the Leelanau Peninsula. Ian and Nancy are also dedicated environmentalists, in love with the idea of planting trees, and with the idea of what is known as the Marriage Tree Project.
Ian, a gentle, quiet soul who’s quick to smile and speaks with a charming British accent (he grew up in Norkfolk, England), explains. “We decided that what we wanted to do to commemorate our 20th anniversary was to place two trees – one for each of us – on our property.”
The couple recently purchased a 46-acre Omena Cherry farm, which they will preserve, continue to farm, and use for future summer gatherings and get-aways.
Last August, on a perfect summer afternoon, Ian and Nancy, with their children and several other friends and family members looking on, restated their marriage vows.

A PERSONAL MOMENT
Standing in a large circle in front of their farmhouse, the old red barn in the back ground, the sound of wind in the orchard branches around them, Nancy read a poem – e. e. cumming’s “i carry your heart with me.” She was tranquil, clear, and beautiful as she read.
Their twelve-year old son, Jonathon, read a passage from “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein. Emily, Ian and Nancy’s fourteen-year-old daughter, looked on, smiling, and hooking her arm around her mother’s arm. The entire family was radiating with the grace and peace of knowing that what they are doing is right and good.
David Milarch, president of Champion Tree Project International,
a non-profit group dedicated to pre-serving America’s tree heritage, spoke to the gathering about the importance of what Ian and Nancy are doing by planting trees.
“Trees give us hope for the future of a healthy environment because they are able to filter off all the garbage that is currently in our atmosphere. I commend you, Ian and Nancy, for helping the world grow stronger by planting these trees,” said Milarch.
Milarch is internationally recognized as a leader in the cloning and planting of champion trees. He’s been featured the past several years in a series of articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post.
After Milarch speaks, the family hops in their jeep, which has been decorated for the occasion, champagne flutes in hand, and heads for “the spot.”
Ian leads his bride to look on as the children and others start digging the hole where the two champion trees – Norway maples, cloned from a tree from Empire, Michigan - will grow for years to come. The honored couple then each pick up a shovel and start digging along with their children, joking, and happy as they do so.
Then, with the help of Milarch and his team, the trees are placed in their new homes. Ian holds up his glass and makes a toast.
“To Nancy,” he says.

DEDICATED MARRIAGE TREES
Ashken’s words and actions mean a lot: He is the chief financial officer, director, and vice-chairman of the board at Jarden Corporation, based in Rye, New York - a Fortune 500 company. When he speaks, people have a tendency to listen. He could choose to dedicate himself to just about any cause – but one of his favorites is the marriage tree project.
“A friend of ours, Terry Stanton, has long-time ties to Leelanau County. He’s very involved with reforesting efforts in Leelanau, and he also knows that in the 19th century, many homesteaders in the area planted trees when they got married. Many of those trees are still standing today. We just thought this was an incredible concept,” Ian said.
Nancy added, “Trees are so symbolic of strength, love, stability, tenderness, and giving. Ian and I thought this gift to each other to be the most beautiful and meaningful way we could express our love for each other and our commitment to the environment.”
Whatever the future holds for re-instituting the old tradition of planting marriage trees, Ian and Nancy can be proud that they have help lead the way to make a difference.
“It is our hope that other couples – from newlyweds to those commemorating anniversaries – may realize that reforestation is critical to our long time future.”

For more information go to
The Champion Tree Project at
www.championtrees.org.

 
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