Amblin’ Alameda: Trees On Central

Amblin’ Alameda: Trees On Central

Morton Chalfy

When I first arrived in Alameda my sweetheart took me on a tour of the city, showing it off with obvious pride. One part of the ride was devoted to Central Avenue and the parade of stately trees that line its sidewalks. I had arrived in late December and the trees, of course, were bare.

“Just wait until the summer,” she said. “These trees form a beautiful canopy.”

And so they do. This is my fourth spring and I still delight in the transformation of the avenue as we get more sun each day. Right now the trees are putting out their leaves. Still young, each leaf is a paler green version of its mature self and the screen of aqua-green forming overhead is as delicate as sea foam. It is a wonderful harbinger of greenery to come.

As spring turns into summer the leaves grow larger and darken considerably as they go about their business of turning water and air into tree and leaf, and, in the process, filling the air with brand new oxygen molecules for our enjoyment. The avenue becomes positively roofed with the arching limbs and thick mass of leaves, and the Central Avenue forest is transformed from the bare-limbed sentinels of winter to the richest expression of summer in the city.

It is no small value to the city to be so well tree’d. The foliage soaks up its share of carbon dioxide and contributes a fair amount of oxygen; it muffles sound, shades the streets and in no small measure raises the aesthetics of the surroundings. We can’t escape the downsides of our culture of fossil-fueled energy and its noxious side effects, but we can mitigate them mightily with the presence of a healthy urban forest.

And living amidst the beauty of the plant world adds a seriously positive vibe to life in Alameda.