I don't profess any blind adoration of trees. Though they provide summertime shade, coolness and beauty while absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, they also tend to steal sunlight from some of my favorite wildflowers and vegetable garden. But I just added another benefit of trees to the long list the other day while crossing Franklin Street in late afternoon. The crosswalk I was on was clearly marked, yet the car approaching from the east wasn't stopping. I pointed at the crosswalk markings with a touch of righteousness, as if to say "Puh-LEEZE! Don't you know cars are supposed to stop for pedestrians?" The driver stopped, and then I realized that he had been slow to see me because he was driving straight into the late afternoon sun.
Late winter and early spring can be a dangerous time to drive, because the sun is regaining prominence yet the trees haven't leafed out to shield us from the sun as it drops towards the horizon. With the time change, the low angling rays are in full force during morning school traffic, when streets near the high school become crowded with drivers rushing to drop off students and get to work on time. Streets become a little safer when the trees leaf out.