REFLECTIVE MOMENTS Trees have their special day, too
Back in the days of my childhood, no one had come up with the idea of a National Tree Day but that did not stop the parents from dedicating hours and hours of work and barrels of water to the celebration of trees.
National Tree Day is Sept. 26 and a tree of significance will be/was honoured by the City of Moose Jaw, a nod to the 2010 declaration of National Tree Day as part of National Forest Week.
When my parents moved to their new location in my hometown, the lots were on the outskirts of the village, bordered only by a farmer’s grain field to the west, railroad tracks to the north, a neighbouring home to the east and a back alley and scrub brush to the south — or so I am told for I was just a babe in arms when the move took place.
I understand one of the first things done in the yard was to baby along a tiny crabapple tree whose branches were spindly and unhealthy. The skinny For Moose Jaw Express trunk was shored up by boards and it was fed with fertilizer and water from the rain barrel.
I have photos of the tiny tree, just barely as tall as the youngster beside it. But some years later, when colour photography was no longer a novelty, the photo showed this same tree, now as high as the house and covered in a blanket of beautiful white blossoms, blossoms that turned into hundreds of apples to be picked, canned, eaten for lunches and given away to anyone who happened to stop by.
That tree, some 50-plus years later, was still bearing fruit, although in a much-diminished capacity because of absolute neglect and abandonment. We checked a year ago and the tree was nearly dead and had no fruit. Such an ignoble demise.
Also in the yard were three evergreen trees, planted as seedlings and nurtured over the years. Those trees provided the family with branches that became our indoor Christmas trees, with imperfections covered with abundant decorations and streamers. Those three trees have not survived.
The parents also showcased a love of trees by hand-planting hundreds of caragana saplings around the yard, with a plum tree in the back, chokecher- ry trees by the flower bed, and lilac bushes on the outside of the north fence. No one, however, took credit for the black currant bush that grew beside the outhouse. It did have amazing yields every year. In our yard in the city, we have trees but none that I would nominate as a tree of distinction. I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help but curse the trees that produce the leaves and sticky seeds that fall onto the vehicles that are parked in the driveway under the overhang of the trees.
However, the green leaves do provide shade for the house. And a thick branch supports our bird feeder that attracts dozens of beautiful birds and too many squirrels.
Housemate mutters about having to rake the leaves in the fall but each time I suggest trimming back the branches or eliminating some of the deadwood, I receive the message that trees in Saskatchewan are to be cherished for as long as we all shall live. So, Happy Tree Day to our city’s trees.
Joyce Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org