As you might recall, I had the rental house next door all spiffed up with the crappy old lawn chopped up, turned over, plastered with cardboard, and topped off with six inches of compost, and it was supposed to be ready by spring, when I could reseed an eco-lawn on one side and put in a tree on the other. It took me a while to decide on a tree and then when I decided on it, it turned out to be hard to find.
The Autumn Brilliance serviceberry tree is spectacular. It’s supposed to self-slather with birds. It makes delicious berries that are reputed to taste like blueberries if you can get to them before the birds do. It turns brilliant orange in the autumn. It’s just what I want in a tree. Almost, even, native. Close enough.
I couldn’t find one in our usual nurseries, at least not yet, and no one could promise me they were going to order any. I could buy one online. The best I could find was a four-and-a-half foot tree for a not-insignificant wad of cash. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just getting too old, but I’m not in the mood to wait for a tree to grow up. I was willing to pay for one with a little more experience in it. I want to see those birds enjoying themselves soon, and I’m sure Anna, who lives there, wants to also.
Even online, though, there wasn’t much choice. One outfit offered a serviceberry for $25. In a four-inch pot, like a dang primrose. They had a comment section on the website and one person wrote effusively that she had never seen a plant that well-prepared for shipping. Her tree arrived in fabulous condition and she planted it right away, and the next day a bunny-rabbit ate it.
I don’t want to plant a tree I’m likely to weed by accident.
So finally I found a somewhat distant nursery right here that had four big serviceberries all ready to go! Dave and I went out to check and they were just wonderful, over ten feet tall, multi-trunked and beautifully branched! Problem. They do deliver, but delivery cost even more than the tree. We don’t have a pickup truck anymore. We do have friends.
Mike has a pickup truck and serious skills. He tackles a project after searching inside his massive brain for every possible potential setback and contingency. When he arrived with our tree, it was carefully and completely wrapped in plastic wrap like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes. It had been expertly blocked in the pickup bed and tied down and it wasn’t missing even a leaf bud when it showed up. This is the same man who took down our oak tree using ropes and hand saws and probably a pulley system he rigged up with St. Peter and didn’t so much as snap a single twig in the garden. Our new tree was Perfect.
The contingency Mike did not count on, and probably had no frame of reference for imagining, was me.
I set to work moving soil around and trying to level out the ground for the tree. The bed had subsided quite a bit since I piled it high with cardboard and compost but it still needed to come down a bit. The cardboard was gone! The cardboard had apparently completely turned into earthworms the size of garden hoses, because that was what was there instead! It was a miracle! I dug my hole. I got my hand truck. I had taken the plastic off the tree, probably out of concern it would fry in the sun. We had sun that day and I’m not used to it and don’t trust it. So I went to move my unwrapped tree and I got it into the hole. There was one particular secondary limb on it that was in a simply artful position. Graceful. A thing of beauty, it was!
Snapped that one right the hell off, I did.
Don’t anyone tell Mike.
I was reading an interesting article in my news feed this morning from AP (which I can no longer find) and I thought about you. It was about how plants actually scream in pain, but beyond a range that we can hear. When they lack water… when they are cut… all sorts of reasons. (The scientist likened the sound to the sound popcorn makes when it it popped.) Although WE can’t hear it, insects and other creatures apparently can. And vice versa; the plants can hear the hum of a bumblebee and it makes its nectar sweeter and more prolific (Giorgia O’Keefe moment here. Whew!) Apparently, that is why bees hum over plants. The scientist was told that she should only release her findings after she got tenure, because it sounded a little “out there.” So she finally has tenure, came out with this (congrats, doc!!) and this is one article in my news feed that I read in its entirety. Fascinating.
Now on top of everything else, I have to imagine my tree screaming?
Hey, this is exactly why I don’t subscribe to vegetarianism. EVERYTHING is alive and aware. We ALL eat life. And your tree will get over the amputation. Of course, it may feel a phantom limb for a while.
That place is really shaping up!
Thanks! As far as the front yard went, it had only one way to go.
Not used to sun? Do you really not see it that often? Come to Australia, you’ll get a lifetime’s worth of sun in just one week.
I’m guessing you didn’t snap off that limb on purpose?
I did not. Oh I did not. I’m one of those people who is incapable of, say, moving a small ladder through the house without gouging the walls. I seem to have no awareness of how big I am when I’m carrying something. No thanks on all that sun!
I’m fine with the idea that the tree may have screamed when the branch snapped off. However, I would worry if the tree held a grudge for 10 or so years, and then sought revenge on some rainy night, and tried to smash you with a falling branch.
That is truly frightening. Now I’m going to have nightmares in which I am surrounded by screaming trees that I can’t hear. In many ways, a metaphor for life.
By way of encouraging you to have such nightmares, here is Robert Frost’s “The Oft-Repeated Dream”:
THE OFT-REPEATED DREAM
She had no saying dark enough
For the dark pine that kept
Forever trying the window-latch
Of the room where they slept.
The tireless but ineffectual hands
That with every futile pass
Made the great tree seem as a little bird
Before the mystery of glass!
It never had been inside the room,
And only one of the two
Was afraid in an oft-repeated dream
Of what the tree might do.
Oh, man! That’s creepy! Thanks for sharing.
Wow. Never ran into that one before.
I want to see birds in that tree!
Tai chi can help with proprioception.