The Trees I Planted

The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago. The next best time is today.

Fifteen years ago I dug a hole in the ground and planted that tree in the picture. It was a tiny little thing that I had to defend from the children and the potential ravages of weed whackers. There was one spring where aphids threatened to kill the entire tree, so we released legions of ladybugs on it. We planted many trees that first year in the house because we knew that someday we wanted to have shade. Life changed and shifted. We spent less energy landscaping and far more creating books. While we were not paying attention, the trees grew. They got big enough for Gleek to climb them. The shade spread to cover most of the lawn.

Yesterday I went in search of a hammock for Link. He’s wistfully asked for one more than once, and given his current doctor’s instructions to avoid sitting as much as possible, it seemed like a good time to add lounging space in the back garden. I’d seen the hammocks and stands at IKEA, they still had the hammocks, but not the stands. I brought the hammock home and strung it between a pair of trees. That tiny maple sapling now bears the weight of two kids without bending. The act of fifteen years ago blesses our lives today because I planted a tree in the right place.

Here at the Tayler house this summer represents a pause before things finish changing. All of our lives will look quite different ten years from now. I could drive myself crazy trying to figure out which things I should plant in our lives right now so that they’ll bless us later. I remember agonizing over where to plant the trees all those years ago. I pondered bush placement. I paced off expected shade radii. Some of the trees that we planted later died. Other trees I could wish in slightly different locations. It is hard to know what our lives will need ten years from now. Instead of trying to plan all of it, I just need to plant many things and see which ones flourish. Also I consult with the master gardener and listen to His instructions.

For now I’ll be out back in the hammock, breathing the scents of honeysuckle and mock orange, while swinging gently in the shade of my trees.