Trees of my life
My father taught me how to plant trees.
Dig a big hole
Carry the tree from the roots
Make sure there is plenty of soft soil around the roots
Give it plenty of water
When you plant the next tree, give it enough room to grow
Keep watering it until it is established
We planted lots of pine trees together. Over and over. His thoughtful directions, the rhythm of digging holes, placing the trees, filling in the holes moves through me today.
I have planted hundreds of trees. Everywhere I have lived, I planted trees and shrubs. Thanks to my early experiences with my Dad, they almost all “make it.”
The tiny pine trees we planted together over 40 years ago are huge now.
Plant another tree
For the past few weeks, I have been following these same directions with two tiny tree shoots I purchased from the Arbor Day Foundation. One red maple, one elderberry.
I remember my dad pointing out elderberry shrubs while we looked for a place to plant a few pine trees. Elderberry…his mother used to make jam or jelly from them. I was smaller than the shrub, the berries looked huge – that moment soaked into my cells.
There are so many mysteries to this life.
For me, trees, shrubs, plants have been a through line, a place of learning, communion, memory, and joy. Why Elderberry? I have no idea – but every time I encounter an elderberry, I remember that moment on the side of the hill, near our pond, with my dad.
My tiny elderberry stem came in the mail a month ago – I knew exactly what to do:
Dig a hole, place the roots in soft soil, give it plenty of water.
From a single stem, leaves and branches are sprouting.
Today I breathe a sigh of relief, this one is going to make it! And so is the red maple.
I love being with trees – for no particular reason other than the sensation of joy that I am filled with when I am with them.