Unexpected Gift: The Gifts From Trees

 

When we first got married, my wife and I lived in a one bedroom apartment. A couple of years later, we moved to a new house that was part of a large development mostly built on open farmland. As a result, the only trees we had were those that we planted.

After 25 years, we finally found a “different” type of house in the country and have lived there for the last nineteen years. This house and property were part of a larger farm and is about 3.5 Acres, with about an acre of woods included in the back. As a result, I couldn’t begin to count the number of trees that we “own” – or own us.

Even though the non-woods part of the lot is mostly clear, there are plenty of very large trees around the house as well as two small pear and apple orchards that had been neglected for years. The pear and apple trees bring lots of birds and also attract deer.  The other trees have lost enough branches that I have all the firewood I can possibly use.  This has led me to the realization of the first gift:

“God delivers firewood, he just doesn’t cut and stack it”

You know you have tree issues when you are on a first name basis with the local Arborist. The first time we met was shortly after I got a call at work from my wife:

“Joe – when you left for work, was there a large tree on the roof of the garage?”

Many of the trees near us are Maples, which leads to the second gift, the realization that people who complained about allergies to Maple pollen have been right all along.

The third gift was given by the tree which is about 30 feet from our porch with the rocking chairs. It is huge, but the most blasted tree that is still standing that I have ever seen. I have been told that it is a Russian Elm and also that it is a Siberian Elm. An example of its size is the one day when a large branch was broken off and fell on a neighbor’s fence. I had been scheduled to drive over to see my mother but explained that I needed to stay home and cut up a branch. She couldn’t believe “just cutting up a branch would take too long” and I had to explain that it was about as big around as my waist and 20+ feet long.

The tree has clearly been hit by lightning on more than one occasion and the main trunk was broken off about 40 feet up, forcing all the growth into side branches. It is so ugly that my wife and I were convinced that one of the first things we would do when we owned the house was to have it taken down. One thing led to another and luckily we didn’t take it down.

These days, we call it “The Tree of Life”. It hosts battalions of wildlife. The first wave is the Sapsucker brigade that leave their typewriter spaced rows of holes. This results in flowing sap ( known by us as “tree snot”) which attracts the butterflies. The dead parts of the trees attract other woodpeckers* and once it leafs out, other birds build nests in it. Later on, there are very small seed pods that drive the squirrels into gymnastics to hang off a branch by their rear feet while eating the seeds with their front.

We just sit in our rockers and watch it all. I think when we sell the house, I will put up a sign in front of the tree that says “Just live with it for a year”. I think that is a good lesson for many plans around a new house and property.

All in all, we will miss this when we eventually have to leave here.

 

*You might be thinking that someone who lives in a log home should not like woodpeckers. It winds up that old chestnut logs (in our case, 216 years old) are very hard and the woodpeckers won’t touch them. They do go after the trim boards which are newer, but I have an arrangement with the Downeys and Hairys that if I keep the suet feeder filled, they will leave me alone. It reminds me of a deal the shopkeeper makes with the local mob boss. As long as the payoff continues, the mob leaves him alone.

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  1. Al French, sad sack Moderator
    Al French, sad sack
    @AlFrench

    The downeys and  hairys don’t bother me. It is the flickers drumming on my roof in the early morning that drive me crazy.

    i live on five acres, about two of which are woods, most of it 50 years old or less. In my 25 years here, God has provided me plenty of firewood. But it is getting harder and harder to cut and stack it. I also enjoy the birds and the squirrels, although I would be happy if God gave me fewer rabbits.

    Nice essay.

    • #1
  2. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    Al French, sad sack (View Comment):
    The downeys and hairys don’t bother me. It is the flickers drumming on my roof in the early morning that drive me crazy.

    We have Flickers, but they don’t bother the house.  The loudest are the Pileated woodpeckers, but they are usually in the back woods or across the street.  They are easy to tell by sound, since the drumming goes down in frequency.

     

    • #2
  3. Eridemus Coolidge
    Eridemus
    @Eridemus

    Trees do typically furnish a lot to wildlife as they decline, even in the rotting state (bug hosts, aerial knotholes and ground level dens). We are having two adult bluebirds every morning and evening doing battle with their window reflections. I think we know what they are defending across the back yard (old bluebird box) but I sure hope they aren’t wasting a lot of energy they should be using to feed babies. Maybe somebody could look at whether they are at least past nest building and maybe spot some eggs when the adults aren’t around.

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    WillowSpring: “God delivers firewood, he just doesn’t cut and stack it”

    I love that line! Great post, @willowspring!

    • #4
  5. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Hoo boy that was one heck of an article.  Thx!

     

    [NB: Ck pluralization “attracts”]

     

    • #5
  6. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Al French, sad sack (View Comment):

    The downeys and hairys don’t bother me. It is the flickers drumming on my roof in the early morning that drive me crazy.

    i live on five acres, about two of which are woods, most of it 50 years old or less. In my 25 years here, God has provided me plenty of firewood. But it is getting harder and harder to cut and stack it. I also enjoy the birds and the squirrels, although I would be happy if God gave me fewer rabbits.

    Nice essay.

    Rabbits are too conversant with lust to be anything but agents of Satan. 

    • #6
  7. Shauna Hunt Coolidge
    Shauna Hunt
    @ShaunaHunt

    Midnight Hunt
    We love bunnies!

    I’m partial to bunnies! Of course, they do like eating flowers and vegetables.

    I love this post. Thank you! It was easy for me to imagine.

    • #7
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    A wise story of the birds and the trees.


    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the March 2019 Group Writing Theme: Unexpected Gifts. There are plenty of dates still available. Tell us about anything from a hidden talent to a white elephant. Share a great surprise or memorable failure (oh, you shouldn’t have!). Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    April’s theme is “Men and Women.”

    • #8
  9. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Considerably more compelling than the Lorax. 

    • #9
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