Now there are seven. Seven new trees stand sentinel around the perimeters of the property. My septuplets, all of whom, like newborns or old rummies, are in constant need of a drink. I’m happy to water them, which I do twice a day, though I’d be happier about it if the temperature ever dropped below 90.
At first, all I intended was to replace the majestic elm that we lost while John was still here. It had shaded the front lawn for almost a century, and I knew that nothing I planted could reach those massive proportions – not in the time left to me. Still, the parkway seemed barren without it, and my neighbor, Terry, would yell across the street, ” You have no trees! Where are your trees?” It’s an umm, close knit neighborhood.
The town would have partnered with me on the expense, but they move at glacial speed and set up so many restrictions and hoops to jump through that I decided to go it alone. Hindsight already wags a finger at me for my impatience, so please don’t add yours.
I ordered a maple that promised to be spectacular every autumn. While I was at it, Why not get something for the inner lawn? Something to fill the space with spring blossoms, like a crab tree. So then there were two.
The maple, though nice enough, was not what I had ordered. Rather than have it dug up and returned, I decided there was room in the parkway for a second tree Since they offered me a sizeable discount to apologize for their mistake, why not also replace the long ailing cherry tree at the side of the house? So now there were four.
Luke volunteered to pick up and plant the cherry tree to save me some money, and when the correct maple arrived, due to another mistake, it was accompanied by a second cherry. I could have, perhaps should have, sent it back, but to John, Kwanzens were the most beautiful of all cherry trees. I think so too, and it was almost as if he were taking a hand in things. So, I had them plant it on the back lawn. And then there were five.
Hearing of this, a friend said, “Now don’t go crazy.” As if one could when it comes to trees. As if one could ever have too many, especially on Forest Avenue. I looked long and hard at this newest tree. It centered on a space which had, for a quarter century, been shaded by a large plum tree whose ample branches spread everywhere and frequently had to be cut back. Ironically, it was called a dwarf plum. Behemoth would have been more apt. But now, the plum was dying and needed to be removed. Already, it had become inadequate to shelter the shade loving plants cringing from the assault of so much unaccustomed sun. I called the nursery and ordered a redbud and a dogwood. That made it seven.
Crazy? Perhaps. But this was money that, before the pandemic, I’d have spent on restaurants, theater, the opera, movies, popcorn, gas, all things of a distant past, ephemeral things. My seven sentinels are an ongoing, permanent source of joy. Having them planted helps me maintain the illusion that I still have some control over my life.
I haven’t named them, nor do I plan to. My neighbor, Vic, names his trees and plants. Recently, he introduced me to a number of them. I think, for now, it’s enough that I name my cars. When the men in the white coats come, I want them to grab Vic first.
Luke, who planted three of them (trees, not men in white coats) and so much else in the garden, brought his girl friend, Anna, around to impress her with his handiwork. She is lovely, and they make a sweet couple. I tried to stay out of their way, but as he took her hand and led her into the shade, I overheard him tell her, “This is a mystical garden.”
Yes, Luke, I do believe it is.