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Watching the Trees Grow
We lived on Guam for almost four years , and there were no seasons, except for the typhoon season. The children rarely wore shoes. Their hair was bright blond and their skin darkly tanned, with little white crow's feet, from squinting into the sun.
One Christmas my mother brought us a Colorado Blue Spruce, packed in Vermiculite, and we planted it in the yard close to a banana tree and we put a little fence around it, just in case. It looked very strange, that pine tree on a tropical island, but it seemed to be doing pretty well.
We had good luck with our coconut and banana trees on Guam. Perhaps it was that same Christmas that we gave our older son a tool set, complete with saw. At the age of nine or ten, he looked around for something to saw and found a banana tree just outside our back door, and so, naturally, he sawed it down.
He was, of course, in Big Trouble. But the tree grew back quickly, and lo and behold, it had bananas on it, which it had never grown before. So I asked around and discovered that in order to make a banana tree bear fruit, you have to cut it down after it bears! I don't think we ever thanked our son properly for that serendipitous discovery, but we had plenty of bananas the rest of the time we were on Guam.
Sad to say, the blue spruce did not fare as well, although it continued to thrive, right up until the moment somebody pulled it out of the ground. Who would do such a thing to a defenseless foot-high tree? We never found out.
To say we were upset about it is putting it mildly but there was nothing we could do -- there was no way to replace it, so the attempt to transplant blue spruces on Guam came to an abrupt and tragic end.
In Tahosa Valley, of course, we are surrounded by more blue spruces than we can count, and I suppose we take them pretty much for granted. But we haven't forgotten that little tree that made a very long trip, only to die on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Ever since, we've had a slightly different perspective on our trees and the way they grow. Now we have a tiny ponderosa growing in a clearing in front of the house. We didn't plant it, and we didn't even know it was growing there until last year, when it grew above the grass. It will not be full grown until long after we are gone.
Still, we go out and look at as the seasons turn, just to make sure it's still there.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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