Tag Archives: nature lover

A Tree is Nice

We have a half-dead tree in our yard. Make that FIVE half-dead trees. A pine, an ash and three fruit-bearing ones, although they haven’t produced much of anything in a very long while. Hence, the time has come to take them down, which by almost anyone’s standards makes perfect sense. It’ll be safer, since the risk of toppling over during a windstorm will be reduced to zero. We’ll also likely get some ample firewood out of the deal and we’ll free up a sizeable portion of the lawn for Frisbee in the process.

Everything about the felling of said trees is good. Except that it isn’t. The sad part of it is that there are memories attached to the trees in question—especially the peach tree, whose blossoms burst forth each spring in a glorious explosion of pink. Likewise, in winter its snow-covered boughs make me want to fetch the camera to freeze the moment in time. I just know I’ll look out my window weeks from now and lament that we ever made the decision to cut it down and dig up its roots, erasing from my mind the notion that it ever existed.

For more than 20 years we’ve been harvesting peaches from that tree. My husband was the designated proper-upper of craggy branches, assigned with the task of placing boards beneath its heavy limbs, laden with bushels of ripened fruit. Together we picked them, sampled them and then hauled bucket after bucket into the garage—a staging area for figuring out what to do with them next. Fruit flies be damned.

I wish I could claim that I baked an impressive number of pies with what we reaped over the years, but that would be a lie. Many of my neighbors, however, probably did, as we were inclined to give away scads of the fuzzy fruit each September, knowing we’d never consume all that we had gathered.

Likewise, I’m sure I’ll recollect a time when I watched my twin toddlers from the very same window, perched upon their dad’s lap as he circled the peach, the apple and the pear tree with the riding lawn mower. Round and round they would go, ducking beneath the limbs, smiling in the sun. One year they even built a teepee of sorts by leaning leafy branches we had trimmed from other trees against it. For days on end that summer, it was the most wonderful fortress in all the land, providing a haven of shade and camouflage for all who were so fortunate to crawl inside.

The aforementioned peach tree was one of their first climbing trees, too, its mossy branches low to the ground, inviting gangly children to develop and hone their scaling skills. I remember hoisting them up, assuring them it was perfectly safe and that it would be worth the effort because of the view it afforded them. After they had mastered the peach tree, it was on to taller and more daring venues, like the maple in the back yard, and the massive oak out front.

It’s possible I’ll miss the dear trees we plan to chop down, as well as any others we might lose in the years to come, because they remind me so much of my childhood—a time during which I practically lived in the woods behind my house, building a plethora of forts and climbing to the tops of trees all summer long, carving my initials there as a way of marking territory and perhaps time. I often wonder if my carvings remain, or even if the trees are still standing straight and tall. Far above the ground, swaying in the breeze was one of my favorite places to be, enveloped by a canopy of verdant leaves, summer after delicious summer. From my lofty perch, time was suspended, after all, and all was right with the world.

I can only hope that my progenies have had enough time in their special trees to make memories that will last.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live, lamenting the fact that our peach tree will soon be history.

Copyright 2018 Melinda L. Wentzel


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Filed under In the Trenches of Parentville

Rock Star

My kids have a new hero in my friend, John (Pete) Cokefair; however, the man possesses no superpowers to speak of. He wears not a flowing, red cape or a clever mask to obscure his true identity. Nor is he capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound or even turning the slightest shade of green whilst morphing into a rage-driven, beast-of-a-thing with meaty thighs and arms of steel. And (I am overjoyed to report) he would never dream of donning square-ish pants or living anywhere near a pineapple under the sea.

And yet, in my children’s eyes, he is revered above all else. Revered for having created a symphony of earthen matter, for having masterminded a labyrinth worthy of critical acclaim, for having erected a shrine to one of their most beloved possessions on God’s green earth—rocks. Mountains of rocks. More rocks than I have ever seen amassed in one place by one set of hands in one lifetime. Forget the Man of Steel. Pete’s the Man of Stone. The Keeper of Boulderish Things.

A rock star.

Since the dawn of time my wily rock-picker-uppers have worshiped and glorified all-that-is-igneous-or-sedimentary in nature, hunting and gathering everything from wee grains of sandstone in the Deep South to massive hunks of granite in the Adirondacks. No matter where our travels have taken us, stony mementos have followed—into our pockets, into our cars, into our lives, ad nauseam. Eternally, it seems, we’ve griped about the gravel. We’ve sighed over the shale. We’ve protested the pea-sized pebbles lurking about. Our rock-strewn garage floor is no exception.

Craggy, old fossils and sleek-looking skippers alike adorn the tops of dressers and fill boxes and buckets galore, pervading the nooks and crannies of our insanely cluttered existence. Each of those ageless treasures apparently possessed a certain charm and appeal, even before being plucked so abruptly from its hollow in the dirt. Each begged to be adopted. Each extolled its many virtues, functionality and versatility chief among them (i.e. “I’m quiet and I’d make a great paperweight!”). Like fools, my husband and I fed the obsession, allowing said prized pearls to be hauled home—to be loved and nurtured as part of the family—to forever festoon my windowsills—to live beneath my every footfall. Grok!

Even the newest addition (a sandstone-hued Jeep) was scrutinized unmercifully for its rock-storing capabilities. Ned at Alexander Nissan made doubly sure the vehicle of my dreams passed muster, having personally verified its wealth of perfectly-sized and ruggedly-constructed cubbyholes—ideal for the mounds of stones sure to be squirreled away there for many moons to come. Needless to say, my charges are a tad bit passionate (read: downright fanatical) about their darling little collections.

So when given the opportunity to experience something as magnificent as Pete’s Serenity Garden (to which his stony creation is affectionately referred), my rock-loving crew jumped at the chance—practically drooling over the notion of treading upon what they believed to be hallowed ground. I assured them it would be like witnessing something sacred. Something extraordinary. Something profoundly enigmatic. In a word, it would rock their world. To be sure, they weren’t disappointed.

“Mom! Mr. Cokefair has enough rocks to make a real castle or something!”

“Yeah, and they probably weigh as much as 50 elephants! Or maybe a whole Argentinosaurus dinosaur!”

For the record, their estimates are close if not dead-on. And as expected, after devouring such a wondrous sight and running amuck along the walls and winding paths of stone, they begged for a souvenir to remind them of the grand event. “It’s a memory, Mom. Everywhere we go, we have to take something to help us remember.”

Thankfully, Pete obliged, doling out a couple of freshly washed sandstone orbs for the road. It was better than the alternative—which was tolerating the hideous clump of dog fur one of my dandies had smuggled into the car, ostensibly harvested from Daisy or Teddy, the golden retrievers with whom we had shared the day. “At least the rocks won’t make me sneeze,” I rationalized. Naturally, Pete autographed each precious keepsake, humoring the troops for my sake and salvation.

It was a fitting end to a phenomenal day, I suppose—and what any true hero, friend (or rock star) would do.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under A Tree is Nice, Daily Chaos, Lovers of All Things Rockish, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction