Out on a Limb

Branching out with the Tree Lady

NT: Hummus? You mean like a dip made from garbanzo beans?

Bauernschmidt: No. It's what happens to the ground when dead stuff falls on it. It's another word for fertile soil.

NT: Okay. So you were up in the tree --

Willow, weep for me: Karen Bauernschmidt is up a tree.
Peter Scanlon
Willow, weep for me: Karen Bauernschmidt is up a tree.

Bauernschmidt: The security guards called the police, and a police car pulls up and a man gets out and says to me, "Ma'am, what would it take to get you down from there?" And I said, "If you can tell me the tree requirement per capita in the U.S. to offset fossil fuel emissions, I'll come down all by myself."

NT: You were trading the life of the tree you'd climbed for the answer to a riddle?

Bauernschmidt: What I wanted to do was educate the community about the value of vegetation, particularly in Arizona, where people die from heat exposure.

NT: Okay. So you're up a tree, and you're throwing down environmental riddles.

Bauernschmidt: Yes. And after a time, they start spreading out these wooden workhorses around the base of the tree. And I said, "What are you doing?" And they said, "Well, if you fall down from there and get run over, it will make us look real bad." Hours went by, and I napped a little.

NT: Wait. How do you nap in a tree?

Bauernschmidt: I was resting. Meditating. Then another police car comes up with a ladder in it. A gentleman comes up the ladder and identifies himself. He says, "Karen, our goal is to get you down out of that tree. If you don't, we'll have to bring in the fire department and get you out by force."

NT: How does one eject someone from a tree? With a great big hook?

Bauernschmidt: These people are well trained at extricating people from every situation. The next thing he said was, "I called the U.S. Forestry Office, and they don't know the answer to your question." Now, I was surprised that they had actually taken my request seriously. I was honored by that detective taking the time to try to get an answer.

NT: You're sure he wasn't bluffing?

Bauernschmidt: Yeah. He was so affable. It was to the point where I felt I'd made my point. He said, "The [Forestry] office doesn't open 'til Monday morning, it's Saturday morning, we don't want you up in that tree for that long." I said, "Well, I like you, so I'll come down for you. But are you going to arrest me?" He said he wasn't, but that I could never step foot on the property again --

NT: Wait! You can't ever shop at Metrocenter again?

Bauernschmidt: No. I'm banned for life.

NT: What are you going to do?

Bauernschmidt: Go back. I mean, who there knows my face? Who there cares? I could dye my hair.

NT: I don't know. You might be shopping at Thom McAn one day and someone will grab you and drag your ass out of there.

Bauernschmidt: That would be patently absurd.

NT: I guess you could shop at Christown.

Bauernschmidt: I don't even know where that is. So, anyway, I came down from my tree, and the police detective offered me a ride home. And he was driving a compressed-natural-gas car. So you see? The situation turned out perfectly.

NT: Except for one thing: You mentioned before about how trees provide oxygen. Now that they've torn all those trees down, will the kids at Castles-n-Coasters start passing out?

Bauernschmidt: [The oxygen is] not that dramatically low. But I'll tell you this: During the whole time they were trying to get me out of the tree, the police officers, the reporters, the security guards -- they were all standing in the shade. That's the shade of 340 trees that were about to be murdered, trees that would provide these people shade no longer.

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Dave A
Dave A

I know this woman. This is so her.


Robrt Pela, quit trying to be clever. Your "questions" are embarrassing. The interviewee is trying to be serious and your trying to be cute. Give it up. Ug.