Twenty-two years ago we started planting sticks in our front yard. This was at a time when schools (including the East Penn School District), churches, businesses, farm shows and other organizations gave them to children and adults in recognition of Arbor Day.
Over a seven-year period, we ended up with seven of those sticks, consisting of the seedlings of three blue spruce and four douglas fir trees. They were about one- to two-feet high with no branches and they looked like…sticks.
We planted each and every tree that our sons brought home. The douglas fir and blue spruce trees joined an already planted blue spruce and two Japanese red maple trees. As they grew, the front yard looked more and more like a man-made mini forest.
But this year, two of the douglas fir were cut down due to a disease only this variety of conifers is susceptible to. The third and fourth trees may soon follow.
There were memories in those trees. Our children helped plant them; then water them periodically. They pulled the weeds and mowed the grass around “their” trees.
Growing trees is much like raising children…only they don’t talk back!
When the trees were small, a wire cage was placed around them as protection from lawn mowers, people walking or running in the yard and nibbling rabbits. Just like parents who keep their infants and toddlers out of harms way by placing them in a crib or play yard for their protection, the small trees grew safely in their guarded environment.
We watched the sticks grow—gaining branches one at a time. One day they were big enough to remove those wire cages. And then…cones formed on some of the trees in early spring, dropping to the ground by late summer.
Sometimes, to help the trees grow taller and taller, they were fed special food to guard against diseases and insects. Children, too, are given vaccinations, vitamins and nourishing food to ensure their healthy growth.
And the trees needed to be pruned to, or taught, the direction we wanted them grow. The unwanted branches were removed and discarded. Our children need to be disciplined and taught right from wrong. Unwanted behaviors need to be removed, giving room for the correct ones to take over.
As the trees grew taller and fuller year after year, so our children grew taller and wiser year after year.
It was a bit sad watching and listening as the chainsaw cut branch after branch. The crack of the breaking trunk and the thud of the tree hitting the ground made it all too real.
Things look quite different with the large empty spaces between the remaining trees. We can see the road out the front window—something we haven’t seen for years.
Those trees became a part of our family and will be greatly missed.