My husband and I disagree slightly on how much room I need for my garden. I’d like to expand it to nearly double the size it is now and he thinks it will “take up all the dogs’ running room.” He’s wrong, of course, but I’ve found a way around some of his objections. I’ve decided that I’m getting rid of some (most) of the trees in our little grove so I can plant certain crops where junk trees now grow.
Our youngest son, Pete, has colluded with me on this project and since he does tree work for a living, he’s the perfect co-conspirator. He’s already planning on getting me a couple of blueberry bushes and a couple of small fruit trees for Mother’s Day. Clearing space for them only makes sense, right?
In addition to the blueberries and fruit trees I plan to move my planting beds for onions, garlic, chives, and a few other things to the side currently occupied by Chinese Elms and other junk trees. I’m going to make that land work for us!
Yesterday Pete came over while his dad was dealing with a migraine. It wasn’t our plan to catch my husband while he was in the bedroom; it just worked out that way. Pete had his climbing gear and chainsaw and was ready to start getting rid of trees. At first I was really excited about starting.Then Pete mentioned he needed me to stay outside in case he “killed himself.” These are not words a mother wants to hear. He explained that, since tree work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world he wanted to be sure someone was around to call 911 if needed.
I suddenly decided I loved all the trees in the grove and suggested we just forget the whole idea. Pete, however, was having none of it. He told me it was just a precaution and that they always have someone on standby in case of an accident.
Ah, yes. Accidents; like the time he got pinned between the chipper and the truck and they thought both his legs were broken. Or the time a limb popped backwards and hit him in the face and the hospital thought it had ripped through his entire eyelid and he’d need plastic surgery. Both of those incidents turned out to be medically minor. His legs weren’t broken, just badly bruised and the eyelid was only cut most of the way through so it didn’t need plastic surgery, just three stitches. But, as his mother, the idea of an accident on my watch was terrifying.
But Pete strapped on his climbing gear and grabbed his chainsaw. He’d checked the first tree, determining where he wanted to make his cuts so it would fall precisely where he wanted it to fall. He’d already trimmed the low branches that would interfere with the felling of the tree. Then he began to climb. It wasn’t all that far; probably 12 feet or so. But to me it seemed that he was precariously high and held in place by flimsy spikes and a rope that should have been several inches bigger around. And he made me hold the chainsaw rope until he got up far enough. I felt that I was an accessory to imminent homicide.
I held my breath and watched from a safe distance. Pete had told me where the tree would land and I hoped he was right but, since he’s my baby, I wasn’t sure he was up to making his vision and reality come together. I mean…he’s just a kid, right? Then, with one final cut the tree toppled over, landing exactly where he’d shown me it would.
He cut a few more trees down and my confidence was growing. I started to realize he’s actually a grown man. My baby is….an adult! But the final act that cemented that I’m going to have all the room I need to expand my food production and that my little boy was no longer a boy at all was the mulberry tree.
I have one mulberry tree in the front yard and I get most of the fruit from that tree. There’s also one in back but it’s been stunted by the much larger trees around it. It produces a little but not really enough to make it worth trying to harvest the fruit. I usually just leave it for the foxes and for Remy, who eats the mulberries right off the tree.
When Pete was getting ready to down one final tree I told him not to worry about the mulberry tree. I was clear that the tree he was removing would fall right on the mulberry and destroy it. I didn’t want him to worry about it. But he remembered me saying that the fruit on that tree was even better than the fruit on the tree in front.
He spent a lot of time inspecting the tree he was removing, the mulberry tree, and the rest of the topography. Although he’d checked out every tree he was removing and actually dropped one by his dad’s much loved old tractor without so much as brushing it with leaves, he was clearly thinking this last one over more carefully.
The electrical lines are on the side of the house where he was cutting trees and I was worried about the last tree hitting them. The mulberry tree was on its own. But Pete told me not to worry. He made his initial cut then told me that the tree was going to roll off the mulberry tree. There would be a little damage, perhaps, to a couple of very small branches but the tree itself would be fine.
Then he finished his cut and stepped back. The large tree tilted, almost in slow motion, and brushed over the mulberry tree, finally coming to rest in front of it. As predicted, a few tiny side branches seemed to have been badly bent but the mulberry tree was still standing, largely unaffected.
There are still a few more trees that need to come down but, since it was so hot yesterday I insisted he stop. We need to clean up the debris from the trees he’s already removed anyway so the rest can wait until that’s done and it cools off a bit.
I’m going to have all the room I want for my vegetables and fruit but the biggest improvement made yesterday is that I finally accepted, not just intellectually as I have done, but emotionally, that my youngest son is a grown man. And that is the sweetest fruit of all.