Here’s an Oldie but Goodie on this sunless, cool Sunday morning in Colorado. (Great day to plant a tree!)
Planting a Tree...
My father, a survivor of Hitler’s insane concept of human genetics, planted a tree at our house in the Bronx. The sapling was a two-foot white pine that my father appropriated from the Catskill Mountains, AKA in the “Big Apple” as the Jewish Alps. “Jeffy, watch! This tree will one day be taller than our house,” he proclaimed. Like a faithful son, I believed him.
One winter, a Nor’easter blizzard blew down along the eastern seaboard. The heart-attack-heavy snow broke the tiny, white pine in half. My dad, a tailor by profession, but whom Uncle Sam trained to be a medical assistant in WWII, sprang into action. He fashioned a splint made of a few sticks, a side order of rags and a lot of twine. With these meager tools and devices, he made the wounded tree whole again. He reasoned, “It works for people, why not trees?”
In 1978, I escaped the hassle and hustle of the Big Apple and moved out West. Now I, a son of a son of a tailor and graduate from the Syracuse College of Forestry, nurture trees at my home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
I can’t take all the credit; I get a lot of help from Mother Nature. Neighborhood squirrels burrow acorns into the mulch and forget where they placed them. A white-oak sapling will arise a season later. My furry friends do the same with apple cores and cherry and peach pits. I have a virtual fruit stand growing in my yard. We haven’t had much luck with avocado pits yet. When the oaks, peaches, apples, cherries and ashes grow too close together, I’ll go in and do a “thinning operation,” and rearrange some saplings. Once in awhile, I have to place a few up for adoption.
Letting go of my green children is always a difficult process. First I have to find a suitable “parent.” Then the lengthy application process begins. With questions such as, “Are you aware that Colorado is now in a drought?” Then a follow-up query, “Will you be able to provide an adequate supply of water for this young plant?” After that, I quiz the applicant about his or her general knowledge on such diverse topics as soil conditions, fertilizers and peat moss. Only when I am satisfied with their answers will we venture out in the yard with a shovel in tow. As we dig up the adopted seedling, I make sure the new owner understands that I get visitation rights. It’s never easy to let go.
In the fall of 2000, I went back east to visit family and friends. I borrowed a car and drove out to see my childhood home in the Bronx. I was glad that I had faith in my Dad. He was right; that white pine tree is now taller than the house.
Do yourself a favor; plant a tree. It’s good for the soul.