“Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folk may circumvent this restriction if they know how. To plant a pine, for example, one need be neither god nor poet; one need only own a shovel. By virtue of this curious loophole in the rules, any clodhopper may say: Let there be a tree – and there will be one.” –Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
Our house was built in the 1940’s, and our neighborhood is considerably older than our house. Our quarter acre lot boasts two stately linden trees, a spruce, three large lilacs, and a hardy, productive apple tree. I’m a tree hugging, dirt worshiping, flower child who is about to wax poetic about trees. Stand back.
I’ve written about the abundance of that apple tree, and the time our family has spent together harvesting and processing the apples, here recently. I think there is a special sort of magic around trees that feed us. . .some in tangible, nourishing ways, and some deeper, soul-level.
My husband grows and tends trees for a living, so that, of course, is very tangible for us. Trees provide us with the largest part of our livelihood.
Money and homemade hard cider? These are rich blessings.
Horticulture on the great plains has a long, storied history. Before the land was settled, the arid climate didn’t provide much for trees, save the gnarled old cottonwoods that lined the river bottoms along the Poudre and the Big Thompson. Front Range towns had to plant their own trees as they built their homes, for shelter from the fierce winds and the relentless summer sun. Our trees, the ones in our yard, line the western edge of the property and provide shade and shelter and beauty. It’s brilliant.
Back when our house was built, nurserymen used to dig trees in the spring, load them into the back of old pick-up trucks, and drive around neighborhoods selling them door to door. Matty’s college professors explained that this is why, when you drive around certain older neighborhoods, you’ll see the same variety of trees, of the same age, in many different yards.
On our walks around the neighborhood, we’ve seen lots of linden trees, and even a few apple trees that look just like ours. I like to imagine the nurseryman, a guy like my husband, pulling up to the curb in an old International pickup and unloading those baby lindens, that baby apple tree. I like to imagine the family that lived in this house carefully tending the trees through their painfully slow, patient growth into the mature beauties they are now. I like to imagine all the generations of kids that, like mine, have leaped joyfully into the November leaf piles.
I am grateful to the people who, 60 years ago, planted the trees that are so important to our family. It makes me wonder what I am planting, now, for my community to enjoy when I’ve moved on.