Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I spent this past Sunday afternoon doing something I should have done a long time ago; I constructed a wood and wire enclosure for a small tree I have in my back yard. That project was very important to me and I felt I should have done it a long time ago.

In the spring of 2010 I planted a young Fuji apple tree. It did well during the summer and into the winter but at some point during the snowy months, some entity—probably a deer—decided to dine upon it. The trunk was damaged to the extent that I was fearful for its survival. This past spring I watched carefully for signs of life but saw none. Then at its base I saw new growth. New shoots were appearing around the still apparently lifeless trunk. I thought my Fuji apple tree had survived until I found out that was probably not so. Nurseries, I was told, graft cuttings of trees such as a Fuji onto root systems of hardier trees—crab apples, for instance. The tree that was growing from the roots was probably a crab apple.

I was disappointed but did nothing to the tree. I was curious to see it complete its recovery. At some point in the future, I thought, I might even try my hand at making crab apple jelly. Then: tragedy. The little tree was again dined upon. In the middle of summer, with all sorts of succulent growth around, its leaves were eaten and some of its branches bitten off. This, I assumed, was the end of the little tree. I was wrong. Within a day or two, new leaves appeared. The tree once again exhibited vibrant life. That’s when I made up my mind that I would help it in its pursuit of life. To protect it, I would build a deer-proof enclosure around it.

But I procrastinated. Once again a hungry marauder with a taste for small apple trees returned and once again ate of the tree. That, surely, was the end of the little tree. But no! As before, new leaves appeared. That was early last week. So this past Sunday I let plans that I had made go by the wayside, made a trip to the supply store, bought wood and wire and constructed a protective enclosure for the little tree. I hope I have done an adequate job and I hope that the tree has not suffered too much from its ordeal and will survive. Anyway, I’ve done what I could and what I had intended.

As I write this piece, I realize a significance I had not noted before. I accomplished the construction on the tenth anniversary of September 11—9/11—the day the TV is filled with non-stop emphasis on death, destruction, lamentation and vengeance. I think any time I or anyone else spent that day on a simple act of regard for and the protection of life, no matter how small or inconsequential, is a positive and welcome thing.

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