By Allison Sloan

Richard Powers wrote in “The Overstory,” the 2019 Pulitzer Prize winning novel about America’s tree canopy, “There are more ash trees in North America (8b) than there are people on Earth (7.5b), which makes its status of ‘critically endangered’ all the more terrifying.”

Wednesday, Feb. 26, is Ash Wednesday, the perfect day to celebrate ash trees and mourn the ongoing passing of one of our country’s signature canopy trees to the invasive emerald ash borer beetle. Now is the time of the falling of the ash trees, and nowhere in Evanston is this more apparent than in the forest of Harbert Park, where an extinction – usually an invisible phenomenon – is unfolding before our eyes.

Please join me at noon for a 15-minute reading, followed by a short walk through the woods to survey the damage and pay respects to this source of wooden baseball bats, hockey sticks, and furniture, bird and wildlife habitat, glorious fall colors, and neighborhood shade.

The Harbert Park Natural Area is located at the intersection of McDaniel Avenue and Nathaniel Place in Evanston, on the east bank of the North Shore Channel. Enter the park from Fowler Street by turning north onto Fowler from Main Street, or south onto Fowler from Dempster Street. Turn west onto Nathaniel Place. Park anywhere on McDaniel Avenue.

The park may be muddy so please dress accordingly.

Ms. Sloan is steward of the Harbert Park Natural Area, Co-Lead of Natural Habitat Evanston and leader of Second Sunday Tree Walks.