Tuesday afternoon's Beaufort Tree Walk through The Point neighborhood was by no means a march of protest.
But this leisurely, 1.4-mile walk hosted by the Lady's Island Garden Club made an important point: Don't mess with our trees.
When Beaufort County Planning Commission members recently took potshots at trees while voting to water down laws that protect them, they insulted a lot of people.
We laymen know that trees, as much as waterways, define Beaufort County.
And a lot of people are still miffed when trees fall, such as recently when two miles of a tree tunnel over S.C. 170 in southern Beaufort County was lost to progress.
The walk tries to increase appreciation for trees. It was four years in the making. It started when Cecile Dorr was visiting Long Island and needed something to do with a young grandson. They went on a tree walk, where local trees of note were identified with markers, and a brochure provided neat tidbits about each one. Cecile brought the idea home and, of course, was immediately asked to chair a committee to make it happen.
It works magnificently.
Even if you don't know the difference between a fig tree and The Chocolate Tree, it can turn you into an activist.
The walk starts at Morrall Park at the corner of Craven and Carteret streets and ends on Bay Street. It gets you out of the car and into the air that this week is drunk with the aroma of Confederate jasmine. It leads you to 34 beautiful and noteworthy trees in a setting of old homes, gardens and, yes, trees that have long dazzled even Hollywood.
I tagged along with guide Pam Floyd, the incoming Lady's Island Garden Club president and freshly minted S.C. Master Naturalist, as she took members of the Dataw Island Garden Club on this rare guided walk.
When she warned that one tree would really grow, someone muttered, "Not in my soil."
Usually, the walk is guided only by a booklet, available at municipal buildings, the public library and the John Mark Verdier House on Bay Street.
We've come too far to have policymakers nickel-and-dime our trees.
To its credit, the city of Beaufort has a staff arborist, Eliza Hill, who helped pick the best trees for the walk from a list of 100 possibilities. Town and county planners have helped identify our tallest trees, oldest trees, best trees, best stands of trees, trees at risk and landmark vistas. They've even produced a calendar of our pinup trees, if you will.
If policymakers want to tangle with the garden club ladies -- or mess with our trees -- they're way out of step.