Friday, May 8, 2009

The Survivor Tree

The Survivor Tree is a Tulip Poplar (which is actually not a poplar, but a member of the magnolia family). She is old and she is tall. In 1992, she was hit by lightening. The bolt took out the top 20 to 30 feet of the tree and deposited in the back yard (it was not yet a garden). We expected her to die, for not many trees can survive a direct lightening strike and live to tell the tale. But the next spring, her jagged top sprouted new branches and she lived on.

Years passed, and she regained her height, now with two trunks that had sprouted from just below where Thor did his not so gentle pruning. Looking from afar, one could not see the scars left that fateful day. She was beautiful again.

In 2004, during a hurricane, one of the twin trunks that had grown above the lightening strike was ripped from her and thrown to the ground by the twisting winds. Other limbs that were ripped away are still lodged in a neighboring poplar about 30 feet away from her, having become "widow-makers". The next spring she began the process of growing more new limbs to reach toward the sky. We watched in awe as she refused to give up her quest.

In 2007, a windstorm took outmost of the new top growth from the lightening strike upward and several more limbs, flinging them to the four directions. Part of the original trunk was ripped away. It still carried the charring from the lightening strike of fifteen years before. Once again the back garden was littered with limbs, some driven so far into the earth that we could not remove them, instead we cut them off at ground level with a chainsaw.

Even this set-back did not defeat the Survivor Tree. She lives on and still produces her beautiful tulip shaped blooms each year. Her jagged profile can be seen from the road across the way, for even with all the damage, the Survivor Tree still stands tall and proud.

We all have endured the storms of this life. We have been struck down when we least expected it with a mortal blow. We have been blown and tossed about by the four winds. The lesson of the Survivor Tree is to bend in the winds of adversity, to stand with our roots deep in our faith, staying strong in our beliefs. To always reach for the sky, and to never, ever give up.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

After days of wet weather I finally got to spend most of today in the garden. I transplanted some flowers into pots for their summer on the patio. Then I transplanted more tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant into the garden beds.

Once the "babies" were safe in their new homes I was finally able to prune the forsythia so as to have an unobstructed pathway down the steps to the back yard. It is amazing how quickly it can send branches out and completely hide the steps, making passage to the back yard look like an impossibility. The forsythia shades the steps to the extent that ferns have begun to establish themselves between and alongside them.

On the other side of the steps is a flower bed that we struggled with for years. Made of excavated dirt from when the cottage was build, it had no nutrients and nothing we tried to grow there could live, or so it seemed. About 5 years ago we put down a thick layer of cypress mulch, thinking it would look better than the bare ground. Later that year I put in some hosta. The hosta thrived and in years since the bed has become a home for volunteer ferns, some sedum, and Japanese Spurge. It is now a lush area, where once was hopeless bare ground.

After my path clearing session I rested for a bit on the deck. It can be a bit overwhelming sometimes to see how the lower gardens became so overgrown last year while I let them sit idle. They were not really idle during that period at all! All the undesirables have gained back the foothold I had spent several years taking away from them. Wild honeysuckle, poison ivy, wild violets have been having a party in my absence.

Deciding enough was enough, I took my spade and went to break up their little party. Let the weed pulling begin! I managed to clean the beds and reclaim my mums and yarrow. I gently broke up the soil so their roots could get some air. Our clay soil tends to pack down and smother tiny root systems.

I made a lot of progress, and I made some discoveries. Some Sweet Annie plants have begun to grow where their mother was two years ago. I found a St. John's Wort that had decided Shady Hollow was a good home. I found about 25 or more tomato plants that have to be Thailand Pinks, for they have come up where the pinks were growing last year. That was a wonderful find, as I had not yet started any of that variety of tomato. It is a heirloom grape-type tomato that is absolutely fantastic in salads.

Left to its own devices, the land will return to its wild state. I see that ever so clearly in my back garden. As I cleaned around my plantings today I removed many young tree seedlings whos goal was to return Shady Hollow to forest. I asked their forgiveness as I tugged them from the earth and told them "not yet". Maybe when I'm gone you can reclaim this place, but not yet.

Friday, May 1, 2009

True Friends

If you have a friend, someone who you know in your heart understands you in your best and worst moments, then you are blessed. If you have a friend who knows the good and bad sides of your personality and still is there for you, you are twice blessed. If they love you, warts and all, you are thrice blessed.

Over time you can lose contact with someone who is your dearest friend. Life happens to us all. People move, get divorced, marry. People have heartache and loss and become involved in the long process of moving past their pain. All sorts of things can cause us to lose track of our friends, even if they rank "best friend" status.

Some of us get lucky. At just the right moment, the Universe moves, and we find that friend again. It might be a few years, or twenty or more in the making, but the Universe is not concerned with how much time. Its only concern is the right time.

The Universe moves and there is your old friend again. If this is a true friend, you find that conversations flow as if you'd never had a gap in time at all. The only manifestation of a time-gap is that the children are grown, and you both have grown or nearly grown grandchildren, and well, there is a lot of catching up and filling each other in on details that has to be done. But, the bond, the thing that made the friendship special is still alive and well.

As one who has experienced this special friendship and reunion, I consider myself to be most blessed by the Universe and Creator.