Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Smells like Spring"© by Abraham Lincoln

I know it is getting close to that time of year when my White Oak Tree begins to sprout leaves and those tiny things that look like something that didn't turn out quite right in a recipe for M and M's. After they fall and litter the roof and ground all around, the actual nuts can be seen struggling to grow into full-fledged acorns. It is important to grow fast and hide somewhere before squirrels bites the heart out of them; and their leftovers drop like stones on the ground.

I saw several small fishworms yesterday, in the afternoon, when I dug out a volunteer maple and transplanted it on the spot where, three years ago, I dug out a monstrous rose of sharon bush that was threatening the side of my house. My wife, for the past 57 years; Patty, held the trembling sapling, taller than she is until I dug a shallow spot to spread its roots.

After it was stuck in the ground and the dirt firmed all around, I went into the garage for a small handful of those magic, round, pellets that are packed with the kind of nourishment all plants need to kick start their growth; and I scattered them here and there close to the tree.

Though it is only as big around as my ring finger, I have high hopes at 78, going on 79, to live long enough to see it cast some shade onto my office. I wish I had another to plant in front but I don't so I will need to make a telephone call to the nursery up the road and have them deliver and plant a tree big enough and old enough to be a grandfather to the whip we just planted out back by the office.

And this new tree, from the nursery, will need to shade my house because the afternoon sun is brutal and drawing the drapes doesn't make anything cool in the house.

I got out some photographs of my house, taken from across the street, and the whole house was bathed in shade. That was back in the 90's: there was the pin oak tree, planted close to the house and it's shade covered one-third of the house; and there was a sunburst locust that shaded another third; and a lovely linden tree that covered the garage end of the house in shade.

Something caused me to hire professionals to come in and cut them all down and then grind out their stumps. My house was suddenly exposed, naked as a jaybird, and getting a bad sunburn. I really must have been nuts. I didn't really like being sunburned in my easy chair inside the house and have lived with the drapes drawn every afternoon.

I had fond memories of sitting in my chair in the driveway, with my dog on my lap, and my wife sitting in beside me in her chair — in the shade.

I felt like I had to make something pretty out of something that looked sterile like all the houses looked when we moved into them back in 1962. My father-in-law said Ankara Avenue looked like it had been bombed during World War II.

There was no birds here and no flowers. I dug all over the place looking for enough fishworms so I could go fishing but ended up buying them from a man who sold bait out of his garage.

I began to plant flowers here and there, everywhere. And if a maple tree seed landed in my backyard I let it grow. I had so many maple trees growing that my wife's uncle dug one or two of them up and took them home and planted them in his backyard in Arcanum.

I gave three of trees to the neighbor, who lived across the street, and they grew into fine specimens and have grown large and are fully matured. I held out dim hope for the survival of the one tree in the front yard as their boy beat the trunk with his yellow, plastic, wiffle ball bat. But even that mistreatment didn't stop it from growing though it is only about half the size of its brother and sister at the back of the house.

I even photographed a Pileated Woodpecker finding and eating grubs in one of those trees. And I have never seen a Pileated Woodpecker in any of my trees here at my house.

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