Had a great time today reading Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax to a bunch of third graders at Lincoln Elementary to commemorate Arbor Day.

“Out through the night and the whispering breezes, to the place where they keep the imaginary diseases…”

Oh wait. That’s Zappa. My bad.

Anyway, The Lorax is my favorite Dr. Seuss book because of its twin messages of hope and responsibility for the earth.

It’s also got all kinds of cool words — like “smogulous” — which I hardly ever get to use — unless I’m describing my last performance review.  (Incidentally, I was quite impressed that so many third graders knew that “smog” was a combination of the words “smoke” and “fog.” These teachers are doing something right, so STOP DEMONIZING THEM.)

Like The Lorax, Arbor Day also holds a special place for me because it was started by a newspaper editor, Julius Sterling Morton, who moved from tree-studded Michigan to pancake-flat Nebraska and was so aghast at the lack of trees that he started a movement.

The Lorax is a perfect complement to that movement because, in the book, the character’s refrain is, “I am the Lorax and I speak for the trees,” much like Julius Sterling Morton did.

Today Arbor Day is observed in all 50 states, but not always on the same day. Nebraska and others usually do it on the last Friday in April, but Arizona’s official observance is usually sometime in March. Probably to keep folks from bursting into flame by having to go outside in late April. Not sure why Mesa decided to do it on the traditional day today, but there you have it.

Anyway, if you’re interested in maybe doing something cool for next Arbor Day, here’s a resource on bringing The Lorax into the classroom. After all, somebody needs to speak for the trees.

John D’Anna