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Teaneck Grows 'Tree Of Love' Program

A Teaneck crew, including DPW workers, install the plaque for the pink flowering dogwood in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Teaneck. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Trees of Love
Amy Losak looks at the tree plaque featuring a haiku written by her late mother. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Trees of Love
The plaque is inscribed with a haiku by the late Sydell Rosenberg. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Trees of Love

TEANECK, N.J. — When Amy Losak of Teaneck read about the township’s Trees of Love program, she knew she’d found the perfect tribute for her late mother, who was a poet.

In an effort to keep greening Teaneck, the program allows residents to buy a commemorative tree that will be planted in a local park.

A total of $350 covers the tree, the planting, a water bag, and an inscribed granite plaque.

The idea of a tree appealed to Losak, who chose a pink flowering dogwood to be planted in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Broad Street—a short walk from her home.

For her, the plaque part was significant, too. While it’s small, it was large enough to fit a haiku written by her mother. Haiku is a type of compact Japanese poetry that often draws on seasonal references.

“My mother, Sydell Rosenberg, was a founding member of the Haiku Society of America in 1968 in New York,” said Losak, who works in public relations in Manhattan.

Rosenberg’s work appeared in many anthologies in her lifetime, according to Losak. Somehow, though, that doesn’t seem like enough.

“All these years after my mother’s death in 1996, I’ve been very much focused on reviving some of her best work,” she said. “You could say I’ve become her literary executor.”

Memorializing her mom—and one of her haiku—feels perfect to Losak.

Friday, her dream came true. The dogwood was planted along with a plaque that reads:

In trees and sky

a comical lost-and-found

of park balloons.

The tree will grow, Losak said. The plaque will remain.

Lastly, she has a place to visit to contemplate the beauty of her mother’s words and life.

Maybe, too, Losak said, the words will work some magic in the hearts of passers-by in the park.

“The poetry is all about slowing down and taking time to savor, to observe, to experience and take in a moment," Losak said. "That can mean more to someone than what the words actually say.”

Losak is happy because, she said, there is a place in the world that captures her mother’s spirit.

Since the Teaneck Shade Tree Advisory Board began Trees of Love last August, more than 20 trees have been planted in nine local parks. Trees can be planted to mark many types of occasions, including anniversaries, births, graduations, celebrations, and weddings.

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