One hot July day, about fifteen years ago, I was helping my mother weed the flower beds in front of our house when I found a maple sapling. The tree, its roots, and its leaves remained in tact, even after I ripped it from the ground.
Surprised by the vigor of the tiny tree, I asked my mom if I could plant it somewhere. She said I had to ask my dad.
I asked my dad.
“Yeah, go ahead,” he said nonchalantly. “It's going to be a lot of work to do it right. You'll have to dig a whole two feet square and two feet deep. Call me when you have it done, and I'll come up and help you get the tree in good.”
“Okay,” I replied, determined. “Do you care where I plant it?”
“No. Why don't you put it right in the middle of the front yard?”
Did you notice the sarcasm there? I didn't.
It was really hot that day, and my dad thought he'd scare me off by exaggerating the work it would take. To his chagrin, I was enthusiastic and eager to plant the little tree.
I found our garden shovel in the garage and started digging, right in the middle of our front yard.
We lived in an area where the soil isn't soil at all, but rock-solid red clay. Add to this the fact that the home we lived in was built atop an abandoned quarry, and the clay is studded with large rocks. It's tough to dig into. If you dig in the wrong spot, it can be next to impossible.
Nonetheless, I dug out a two foot by two foot section of our front yard, halfway between the porch and the street. It was about eighteen inches deep when I proudly summoned my dad.
The words that spewed from his mouth are not fit to write here. He was neither pleasant nor proud of my accomplishment. He didn't seem to connect his instructions with my actions.
After filling most of the hole back in, he did help me to plant my tree. That little baby tree is now taller than the house in which my parents still reside. It shades their entire yard, and it is beautiful.
Last week, Joe and I were cleaning our backyard and getting it ready for spring flowers.
I probably pulled and discarded a dozen saplings out of the flower bed next to the house. If you've ever maintained a flower bed, you know that they grow like weeds in the spring.
One of the saplings reminded me of my little maple tree. It had just a few leaves, its trunk and roots were so strong that they remained intact after I ripped them from the ground.
The little tree made me smile.
When I showed it to Joe, he asked if I wanted to plant the tree.
“Sure,” I responded, and we did just that. Joe dug a hole just big enough for the roots, and we spread them carefully over the soil.
I love the idea that this little baby tree can grow up with Gracie, and we can always remember that we planted it just before her third birthday.
Stop back in ten or fifteen years to see how it's doing, okay?photo credit
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