Been There, Done That: The little tree that could

Since Dave and I moved to this house 27 years ago, we’ve tried to replace any trees that we took down or that came down on their own. I don’t want to mow around a forest, but we don’t want to desecrate the land, either.

A long time ago, Dave brought home a seedling from work and it lived in a bucket for about seven years before it finally got its permanent place in the yard.

It was doing pretty well until a deer decided to rough it up, scruffing up its antlers on it. It survived and is about 15 to 20 feet tall now.

We have another recent addition to the yard. I discovered it sticking out from under the basement doors (think Wizard of Oz), which actually weren’t over the entrance to the basement, but just sitting in the grass to the left of it. Some little seed had landed under the doors and started to grow.

By the time I noticed, it was about a foot tall and had hung a hard left so it could get to the sunlight. Poor thing was horribly bent because of it, but still alive and giving it its best shot.

I dug it out of there and put it in a pot. We had a misadventure years ago involving a small sapling that a young boy had grown at school that got planted directly in the yard and a Grandpap on a riding mower.

You do the math.

So I put this little volunteer in a pot until it got a little stronger. And it did, even with its bent beginnings, it began to thrive. I talked to Dave and our son about where we would plant this little guy when it got big enough to be out on its own.

OK, it can’t be in the “back 40,” that’s where we “planted” 600 feet of leech field with our new septic system a hundred years ago. Not too close to the house, not between the garage and the shed, or the garage and the fence on the other side. Not too close to the concrete or it’ll grow up through and crack it.

OK, how about close to where we took one down a few years ago — about halfway between the house and the garage. Everybody agreed it was a great spot to plant the tree. Our son even dug the hole so we could plant it. And then complained ever since about the poor placement of the tree. Always in his way. He couldn’t get around it to back things into the yard on that side of the house.

I put a stake in next to the little tree to try to help the poor thing grow up straight and tall. Our Beagle Boy Cletus used to get his cable wrapped around the tree and the stake and then just pull his way loose, dragging the cable over top of both. Well, he can’t do that anymore.

Every time I put plant vitamins on the garden, which is right up behind our house now, I gave that little tree a shot, too. It’s about 12 feet tall now, to the total consternation of our son. The tree always seems to be in his way. I think he even accidentally hit it with his truck once.

When the windstorm hit back in March, I was crushed because my little tree was crushed. Literally. The top of a very dead pine tree on the property line came down right on top of it. I didn’t even realize it. I was taking photos of the big tree that came down in the neighbor’s yard when our son said “You know that little tree I never really liked, well I think it’s gone now.”

What? No! Not my little tree.

He drug the pine tree top off of it and my poor little tree was broken, but not completely. I think they call it a green stick break — only because that’s what they called it when I broke my collar bone (that’s a different story).

After the tree top was removed, I raced out there with an Ace bandage. Our son helped stand the little tree back up and I wrapped the bandage around to hold it in place. I’ve re-wrapped it a few times to make sure it stays tight and guess what? That little tree has leaves now. It’s a survivor after all it’s been through and I have to respect that.

Laura Nethken
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